Young Pastors have a challenge. In their youth and inexperience, they often have to “prove” themselves and often earn the respect of their congregations. Every young Christian knows and loves 1 Timothy 4:11 “Let no one despise you for your youth but set the believers an example”. The question we should ask is “In what way do I set an example?” Paul answers that for us, “in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity”. So our lifestyle is a key part of earning the respect of our congregations even though we may be young. However, there is something very interesting about the context of where 1 Timothy 4:11 falls. Read the passage again in context and see if you can spot it:
“Command and teach these things. Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.” (1 Timothy 4:11–16, ESV)
So 4:11 is set in a context of the ministry of the word. Timothy is told to “command and teach”, devote himself to the “public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching”, immerse himself in his teaching gift, watch his teaching, and persist in his teaching. So how does a young pastor earn the respect of his congregation, by setting an example through his teaching ministry.
For a pastor, the ministry of the Word is central to his calling. He must build his life and his ministry around the Scriptures. He must be dedicated in his studies and committed to excellence in his preaching. As the young man of God proclaims the Gospel through the Scriptures in a Christ like manner, the respect of his congregation will be earned. He will no longer be despised for his youth, but respected. He will be an godly example to his people.