These were a mixed bag of students in our brand new youth group. Some had grown up in church, some just visiting, but a lot of them, unchurched. I was curious how each of these 7th graders, going on 8th graders, ever made it to youth group. One by one, each of them began to share their story.
“My parents go here.”
“This is where I have always gone to church.”
“I usually just come here on Sundays.”
But then the stories began to change. At least half of these kids were there because of friends. One by one they shared different, but similar stories, of how a friend reached out to them.
A conversation over pizza.
God-talk after practice.
A simple invitation.
Being in youth ministry for several years, it wasn’t surprising to me because my husband and I saw it all the time. Kids reaching out and making a difference in their schools. In fact, my own story was not much different. I didn’t grow up in church. When I was in high school a friend reached out to me and invited me to come with her to church. That is where my journey of faith in Jesus began.
Each of these stories are reminders that our kids are never too young to be used by God. I think most people can relate. Most of us feel inadequate at times to be used by God. We feel like we don’t know enough, we haven’t been a Christian long enough, we’re too old, not old enough, don’t have the right gifts, and the list goes on! The fear can be crippling for adults and children alike.
If it’s any comfort to you, there are many examples of men and women in the Bible who felt the same way. Timothy, a young pastor in the city of Ephesus is just one example. The older, more experienced Paul, had to write to him to reassure him. In 1 Timothy 4:12, we read:
Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.
It seems to me like Timothy needed another reminder because in 2 Timothy 1:7 the Apostle Paul would write again, “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” We all need reminders don’t we?!
When Paul wrote to Timothy, he had to remind him his youthfulness didn’t disqualify him from being used by God. His age was no barometer for fruitfulness. No matter how old or how young, God can work through us. As a parent, we can begin to teach, encourage, and remind our kids of this important truth. Paul’s words give us a great list of ways our children, no matter how old they are can be used by God.
His reminder to Timothy was that he was to be an example, even to those that were older than him. How was he supposed to do that? He tells Timothy to be an example of Christ in his speech, his conduct, his love, his faith, and his purity. One of the greatest ways our kids will have an impact on their friends is by the life they live! You don’t need to be a Bible scholar. You don’t need to be an adult. You don’t need to go on a mission’s trip. There are countless opportunities around us every day to live on mission for Jesus. Help your kids see that they are never too young to be used by God for his purposes in the world!
Hermie and his friend Wormie have always felt common. They don’t have stripes or dots, they aren’t very strong, and they can’t find anything special about themselves. But every time they pray, God tells them that He loves them all the time just as they are and that He isn’t finished with them yet. When Hermie becomes a beautiful butterfly, he realizes just how special God’s plan is for him!
In this adorable book, Hermie learns that God has made him unique and God can use even him! Click here to check out Hermie, a common caterpillar by Max Lucado.