(This message was originally published on May 22, 2014) Today the SBC of Virginia is providing an orientation day for a large number of summer interns/ministers/missionaries that will serve across Virginia this summer. Most college students have returned home for the summer and will need to get plugged into our churches. High school seniors will soon graduate across America in the next few weeks. This reminds me that the Lord Jesus has a calling upon the lives of younger Christians. It is critical for them (notice, I write "them" as I am now in my early forties) to follow Christ in these critical days.
Two Lies That Youth Must Reject:
(1) You should "sow your wild oats" while you are young. This is a lie of the devil. We are not to indulge in irresponsible behavior at any time. Satan says, "You can pursue pleasure in present without any long-term pain or consequence later." That's not true because guilt from the past cripples more people than polio.
(2) You are the leaders of tomorrow. I have heard the phrase "Next Generation Leaders." I understand the meaning behind the phrase. However, youth must know that they can be used of God now, today. In fact, this summer, youth and a younger generation will serve Jesus across Virginia at our FUSION Camp and our STUDENTZ Camp. A younger generation of pastors is becoming even more involved with the SBC of Virginia. Churches are being planted and disciples are being made by this younger generation.
Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. (1 Timothy 4:12 ESV)
Five Challenges That Youth Should Accept:
#1. Set an example in your words. As a youth and younger leader it is important for you to examine the words you use and the way you speak. Become aware of euphemisms that have become common place in speech yet are actually grounded in profane actions and speech. It is easy for our speech to be influenced by the words we hear in music, media, and in the marketplace. Secondly, it is important for a younger leader to speak clearly and intelligibly. Don't mumble. Look people in the eye and speak clearly, yet with a spirit of humility.
#2. Set an example in your manner of life. People say 'walk the walk, don't talk the talk.' Actually, it is important to do both. We need to talk the talk, but we must walk the walk. My actions must back up my rhetoric. My lifestyle does impact and influence others around me.
#3. Set an example in your willingness to serve others. The Bible in this verse uses the word 'love.' Older translations may use 'charity.' The challenge for us is to serve others. There may be suffering and sacrifice involved. Be willing to wash the feet and wait the tables.
#4. Set an example in your firm convictions. Youth and younger leaders have been born and raised in an age of relativism. Many have seen lofty leaders crash and burn. It is important for all of us, but also for youth to have firm convictions based on Scripture. Jude 1:3 reminds us, "contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints."
#5. Set an example in your staunch commitment to purity. Joshua Harris said, "The right thing at the wrong time is the wrong thing." Our society has become satanic in its assault on youthful purity. Movies, books, magazines, web sites, even video games are now created to suck you into the web of seduction. Our culture creates lots of pressure for those who are wanting to wait until marriage.
This is the call of the Lord God upon our lives. May a strong and courageous generation of leaders among our youth rise up and be raised up.
May our churches embrace the opportunity before us in this season to mobilize another generation for His glory!