1 Timothy 4:12a
12a Let no man despise thy youth.
From these words of Paul, it is clear that Timothy was then a young man, though no reference to his exact age is found. He was ministering God’s Word to the church in Ephesus (1 Timothy 1:3). It was an enormous task to be a pastor, particularly to a large and vibrant church like that in Ephesus. It must have been a tall order for the young Timothy. It is apparent from Paul’s words in this epistle that he was ploughing his way through the difficulties he faced in the ministry.
Some people in the church must have been hard to deal with. They might not have accepted him as a leader and teacher due to his youthfulness. So Paul advised Timothy, “Let no man despise thy youth”. Paul wanted him to give no occasion for anyone to accuse him as a frivolous, facetious young man. He ought to act in such a way that men will respect him in all aspects as a minister of the Word. His habits, his mannerisms, his practices and his demeanour should be above reproach. No occasion should be given for anyone to despise him, or to perceive him as an indiscreet, unwise, unsuitable person for the ministry of the Word.
A man in the ministry must see to it that he conducts himself in a manner worthy of the office to which he has been called. The respect that he receives is closely attached to his conduct and abilities. Such respect is not attained by “acting big” or bragging about one’s credentials, but by humility, prayerfulness, faithfulness, friendliness, industriousness, cheerful countenance, practical wisdom, etc.
Paul’s counsel to Timothy was meant to mould him to be a “good minister” (1 Timothy 4:6). His corrections and instructions were for his betterment. In fact, Paul had a high regard for Timothy. In his first epistle to the Thessalonians, Paul commended Timothy as “our brother, and minister of God, and our fellowlabourer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you, and to comfort you concerning your faith” (1 Thessalonians 3:2).
Every Christian young man who desires to progress in his Christian life and service must be open to godly counsel from mature Christian men around him. It is a great blessing to have a godly man with biblical knowledge and plenty of experience in the Lord’s work to provide necessary correction and counsel. Young men who are submissive and willing to be corrected and instructed, will make excellent progress in both life and ministry.