“Don’t Let Anyone Despise Your Youth”

Timothy is the young disciple Paul takes under His wing during the latter stages of his life. Paul takes Timothy everywhere and where Paul can’t go, because he prior commitments or is in jail for preaching the Word, he sends Timothy.

In this second recorded letter to his young apprentice, Paul encourages Timothy not to let anyone look down on him because of his youth (1 Timothy 4:12).

We all have to start somewhere. People that have been doing anything for a while are quick to forget how long it took them to learn. Everything from acting to metalworking takes a while to get a hang of, and a lifetime to master. Yet we can easily look down on those who are just beginning.

The disciples turned away children (Luke 18:15-17) and believers that weren’t part of the “in” crowd (Mark 9:38-41). They even rejected Jesus at first because He was from Nazareth (John 1:43-46), the ancient equivalent of a one-horse town. The Pharisees turned away women (Luke 7:39), the sick, and social pariah (Matthew 9:11).

We can think of a thousand reasons why someone is not worthy, but Paul challenges Timothy to prove them wrong. In word and deed, prove them wrong. Demand your place at the table. And for those of us who are the “in,” our challenge is to keep our eyes and hearts open. Where we find exclusion, call it out. Jesus openly rebuked the disciples for pushing out the children. Paul called Peter out for neglecting the disciples. We must also be intentional about extending a warm welcome and following through with it.

Just look at Jesus’ invitation of Zaccheus, a despised tax collector (Luke 19). His dinner invitation changed Zaccheus’ life, so much so that he not only had an overnight conversion, but also became a leading and philanthropic member of society. Community changed people’s lives. It gives them a newfound sense of hope, purpose, and empowerment.

But first someone has to break out the Thor hammer and smash the socio-political glass ceiling to pieces.

So, if you’re new to whatever it is you long for, keep going. If you’re an old timer, stay open. We need each other to thrive.

Cupcakes in the Void

I teach youth on Sunday mornings. Great kids, but some can be a little bit like raptors at times. Allow me to explain.

There is a great scene in Jurassic Park where John Hammond reveals that the raptors routinely test the fences to see if there are any flaws in it, weaknesses through which they can escape and reek havoc.

We’re all a bit like that times. We habitually test the waters, seeing what we can get away with and for how long. We’ll keep tossing cupcakes into the void just to find out what sticks.

With that in mind, there comes a time where we as instructors need to put our foot down and say, “woah.” Otherwise, a student may walk right over us – or others. When that happens, not only will the lesson go by the wayside, but other students’ experience of it may be lessened as well.

We must keep our hearts and eyes open, allowing detours when needed and providing guidance when required. We, as instructors, are always learning ourselves. That’s how everyone grows.

A Hope of Romance

He had always considered himself a jester or a villain, someone brought in only to entertain or to kick before throwing out again; but there he was, in class, and the teacher gave him a script to read. It was a simple story about two friends trying to save a school. He performed it to the best of his ability. At the end, there was a collect “awww,” not aww as in pity or remorse, but in sympathy and encouragement. An eternal “isn’t that cute.”  The teacher turned to him and said, “you know, you could play a romantic lead one day.”

 

The student’s heart became afflutter. Romance was for the main stream, not the side characters. He never dared dream he was worthy of it. But here he was, hoping against hope, dreaming hard enough to be made reality. And the dream remained, though it took him a long, long while to see it achieved. But hope is a wonderful thing, flowers from the pavement, refusing to be quenched once ignited.

We all need a little hope in us. Thank you, Jesus.