The longer I serve in ministry, the more I recognize the value of working with young people. In fact, the longer I serve, the more I believe we should pour more of ourselves into serving our youth.
Some of the most significant decisions of my life I made as a teenager. I sensed the call to preach as a thirteen year old at camp. I made the decision to attend Bible college as a sixteen year old when Dr. Jack Baskin took an hour to personally invest in my life.
It’s obvious that young people make significant life decisions in their teen years. But what we sometimes forget is the pliability of their hearts and the opportunity we have to influence them in these decisions.
I clearly remember specific people who influenced my life as a teenager. It meant so much to me when an adult would just notice me, let alone make a significant investment of time or care into my life. Decades later, I still remember them.
Think about it—you remember those people too. You have a mental list of a handful of people who made an impression on your heart when you were young and especially impressionable.
Paul did this for Timothy. You know Timothy’s story—unsaved dad, apparently raised by a single mother and grandmother. Considering the lack of male spiritual leadership in Timothy’s home, he’s not who we would have deemed “most likely to succeed” were he in our youth group.
But Timothy did succeed, and I believe 2 Timothy 1 tells us why.
To Timothy, my dearly beloved son: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers with pure conscience, that without ceasing I have remembrance of thee in my prayers night and day; Greatly desiring to see thee, being mindful of thy tears, that I may be filled with joy;—2 Timothy 1:2-4
Do you see the tender faithfulness and sincere care Paul had for young Timothy?
He addressed him “my dearly beloved son.” Young people need to sense our heart for them. You and I know that we of course love them—that’s why we have a youth program! But we must somehow convey that heart to them. We need to give personal encouragement and personally invest ourselves into their lives, individually.
Paul prayed for Timothy—night and day. He greatly desired to see Timothy. He cared for Timothy’s hurts and longed to give him joy.
Yes, I can see why Timothy made it. He had Paul.
We need more Timothys today. We need more young leaders who are willing to launch out in faith-filled ministry.
Of course, this means that we need more Pauls.
If you serve in any capacity in youth ministry, I’d encourage you to remember the deep significance of your labor. You are touching moldable, pliable hearts. Keep pressing on!
I’d also like to encourage you to invest as Paul did into Timothy’s life—personally, tenderly, faithfully, with commitment and faith.
Finally, in whatever capacity you serve the Lord, I’d like to ask you to pray for us this week as we conduct the West Coast Baptist Youth Conference.
This conference is not just a program that we put on. It is an expression of our overwhelming desire to invest in and influence young hearts and lives. It is our opportunity to serve the leaders of tomorrow’s generation.
The conference began yesterday and continues through tomorrow. Pray the Lord will give us opportunities to connect with the hundreds of young hearts joining us for this conference. Pray the Lord will open their hearts to the preaching of His Word and to the influence of their youth workers. And pray especially that the Lord Himself will influence hearts through our efforts.