To the youth in the pew
Young people, you must realize that living in sin is an option, but it is not a good option. Some temptations may be greater for youth (2 Tim. 2:22). Many have tried it before coming to their senses (cf. Luke 15:17). Moses, educated in the ways of Egypt and understanding the lifestyle he could have led apart from God, chose to be associated with God and God’s people instead of enjoying “the pleasures of sin for a season” (Heb. 11:25-26). Young people, you must consider the options that this world offers. Only then can you count the cost of a lifetime allegiance to Christ (Luke 14:28-30). We want you to choose wisely, but you must commit for yourself (cf. Josh. 24:15).
There is a temptation to place one foot firmly in the church: you participate in Lads, you label yourselves Timothy’s or Tabitha’s, and you cultivate an image of faithfulness. Yet, with your other foot you are tempted to stand in the world. This creates an issue of limping between two opposing sides (cf. 1 Kings 18:21; Jas. 4:4). So, if the cost is worth it to you (I know it is to me!), then you must commit yourself fully to the cause of Christ (Mark 12:30). There is another temptation for young people, especially those who grew up in the church: you may be tempted to commit to Christ because of someone else. Maybe it is your family’s tradition or your girlfriend’s church or your husband’s faith. This will never work. The faith is once for all delivered (Jude 3) and does not belong to your husband; the church belongs to Christ not your girlfriend; and the family that matters above all else is the one where God is the Father. You must cultivate your own faith. You should never want to just be in the pew. Christianity is a life that must be learned, lead, and lived. Understand that you still have to grow in your knowledge and ability in Christ. This is your responsibility not anyone else’s. However, you cannot buy the line that “you are the future of the church” unless it is qualified by an understanding that you are also the present of the church – especially the local congregation who depends on you for energy, effort, and example. Do not wait until a later stage in life before you decide to make the greatest decision you possibly could (Ecc.12:1). You are important right now (Tit. 2:1-8; 1 John 2:12-14; 1 Tim. 4:12).
To the youth in the pulpit
There is a special group of young men among us, young preachers. These men, often inexperienced preachers or recent graduates, are truly a blessing to the Lord’s church. We can see how special they are to God with the epistles to Timothy and Titus. Being a young preacher also comes with expectations and opportunities.
Above all, you must preach the word (2 Tim. 4:2). I think this goes without saying. Never deviate from the Good book for the words, thoughts, or comments of men. As young men who labor in the Scriptures, I would advise you to put your head down and do your work. Be more worried about the local work than about the “hot issues” in the brotherhood. I encourage you to spend more time at the kitchen tables of members and contacts than you spend at out of state lectureships. Show up every day and put in the work. Every VBS, you need to be there to support everything and everyone. Every workday, you need to clear your schedule, show up, put on the gloves, break a sweat, and learn something. Go to youth devotionals. Go to lunch with the older members. Teach ladies’ class. After a few years of head-down hard work, come up for air and look around. Then, put your head back down and put your hand to the plow once more.
One of the best things you can do as a young preacher is practice discipline. Discipline yourself to study. You do not have all the answers. No one this side of God does. Challenge yourself to grow. Discipline yourself to be consistent with everyone. Do not be a respecter of persons. Always be willing to have your private words displayed publicly and speak accordingly. Be the same person in the pulpit and out of the pulpit. Be the same person on Saturday and Sunday. Have the discipline to filter your words and say everything you think. This is called wisdom. Plan to stay a while in the local work. No church family is perfect. No preacher is perfect. Invest in the local brethren with your time and energy. Get to know them and their families. Learn to speak the language. You can only do this by being a part of the local community or neighborhood where you live, labor, and preach. Look for a mentor in the local congregation or possibly an area preacher who can encourage your dedication to the local work. These mentors can provide great wisdom in the cab of the truck or over a cup of coffee.
Young people, you are important to God and the church. Never be content in the pew. Live, serve, work, be holy, be faithful. Never believe that standing in the pulpit elevates you above the church. Live, serve, work, be holy, be faithful. Realize that you have unique abilities and opportunities and use these to the glory of God.