Intro. As a youth leader, you are ministering to the most critical age group in the church. This is the time when they are making the most crucial decisions of their lives. Their career, their mate, their choice to follow or reject Jesus Christ. 9/10ths of the decisions to be a Christian are made in the teen years. This is also the age when the Sunday school experiences the greatest drop-out rate. Whether they will spend eternity in heaven or hell are being made while they are under your tutelage.
I. PAUL'S EXHORTATION TO TIMOTHY, HIS YOUNG SON IN THE FAITH.
A. I really cannot improve on Paul's exhortation to Timothy, only seek to amplify it.
B. He calls him to be an example of the believers.
1. Young people are looking for examples; someone that they can admire and pattern their lives after.
2. God has called you to model Christianity for them.
C. The specific areas that Paul calls him to model for them.
1. In word.
a. This can mean your speech.
1. You must be very careful about your language.
2. When I was a teenager, I had a minister that I admired very highly, he had one of the most captivating personalities of anyone I have ever known. One night as we were together at the Y.M.C.A. and a sharp-looking gal came in and he made a remark, "I like pictures, especially when they are framed like that." Inappropriate for a minister of the gospel.
3. Some of the Calvary Chapel pastors use slang in their preaching. I cringe every time I hear it.
b. It might also refer to your understanding of the word of God.
1. In another place he told Timothy to study to show himself approved unto God a workman that need not to be ashamed rightly dividing the word of truth.
2. You need to develop an inductive way to study the word. What does it say? What does it mean? What does it mean to me? What does it tell me about God? What does it tell me about myself?
2. In conversation. This is an old English word that means the manner of your life. Or Paul is saying be an example in your lifestyle. Speaking of our lifestyle he said to the Ephesians.
That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;
And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;
And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor: for we are members one of another.
Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:
Neither give place to the devil.
Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with [his] hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.
Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.
And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.
a. He told the Philippians to let their lifestyle be as that which becometh the gospel of Christ.
b. Peter speaks of our chaste manner of life, and then in light of this world being dissolved one of these days he asks what manner of men ought we to be in all holy manner of life.
3. In Charity. We know that the Greek word is agape. This is a quality of love that is almost divine. It is the supreme love of a person's life. It is an all-absorbing, all-consuming love.
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become [as] sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
And though I have [the gift of] prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
And though I bestow all my goods to feed [the poor], and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
Charity suffereth long, [and] is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
b. He gives its qualifying characteristics in Gal. 5
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
c. You are to model this kind of love before the young people that God has put in your care.
4. In Spirit. This is a reference to your temperament. You have heard it said, "He has a gentle spirit." "He has a grumpy spirit." "He is mean-spirited." What do they say about you?
a. Jesus has really modeled this for us. Peter tells us,
For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:
Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:
Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed [himself] to him that judgeth righteously:
b. In His call to us to come to Him, He declared that He was meek and lowly in heart.
c. How carefully the kids are watching you when the pressure is on to see how you are going to react.
d. Be a model to them, react as Jesus would react.
5. In faith. It is awfully hard to convince someone that they should trust in God in the time of crisis, if you do not trust in Him in the time of your personal crisis.
a. Being with young people will bring you into stressful situations. Be an example of perfect faith and trust in God.
b. Don't panic, don't show fear. Speak of God's strength and love. His understanding and His promise to deliver.
c. When the disciples panicked in the midst of the storm, Jesus rebuked them for their little faith.
d. Faith and fear are mutually exclusive. If you fear, you are lacking in faith. If you have faith, you will not fear.
6. In purity. In another place Paul told Timothy to flee youthful lusts. Run from temptation.
a. In dealing with young people, they are in the crush stage of life. They often get crushes on their youth leaders.
b. You stand for and represent what they are looking for in their quest for a husband.
c. They will start hanging around you.
d. They may start massaging your back. It feels great, but many times it means more to them than you think.
e. If you don't allow things to get started, you do not have to worry on how to get them stopped.
f. Be above suspicion. Paul said, "Abstain from all appearance of evil."
g. Don't denigrate your wife before them. Do not confess her failings, never put her down. Always speak of her in the most endearing way. Express your intense love for her. Let them know that you could never be interested in any other. This will serve a twofold purpose; it will establish a good example for their future marriage and it will discourage their thinking that they have a chance.
h. Many times they volunteer for almost anything that will put them close to you. It is great to have the help, but you must be careful.
i. If you suspect that one is beginning to be attracted to you, take special safeguards.
f. Be an example of purity of mind, purity of heart, and purity of conversation. The world is looking for leaders to follow. Too many are attracted to bad examples, and are following them to destruction. Set the example and standard that will lead them to eternal life.