Qoheleth revealed wisdom when he declared “What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.” Ecc 1:9. The modern entrepreneur frowns in disbelief. As did every entrepreneur from generations before;) Truly there is nothing new. We see a clear picture of this truth in 1 Tim. 4 and 1 Tim. 6.
1 Tim. 4:12 “Let no one despise you for your youth.” Paul anticipated some of the problems that young pastor Timothy was about to face. Ageism has always been a two-way street. The young tend to look at the old with mockery and the old look at the young with the same. This should not be. But it is, and it always has been. Many young pastors from my generation (Millennial) have faced this sort of ageism. Young leaders feel as if everything we do is viewed through our age. That is how it was for pastor Tim in Ephesus.
If you were to go to the local water hole in Eph. here are some things you may have heard.
- Timothy preaches way to long. He has got so much to learn.
- Timothy does not preach long enough. He has got so much to learn.
- Timothy is so passionate. Give it time and that will wane.
- Timothy just does not know how to pastor. He preaches fine, I’m just not sure he cares for people.
- Timothy pastors well, he just can’t preach.
- Timothy just needs to listen to us. Doesn’t he know what people are saying.
Young leader, have you ever been there? We take it, and we can dish it out! Have you ever said anything like this?
- Older people are just mean.
- The older generations are set in their ways.
- Older people don’t care what the Bible says. They just follow tradition.
- Older people won’t disciple anyone.
- Older people don’t care about younger people.
- All they care about is politics and not drinking beer.
We must resist! Paul knew ageism would come. With that wisdom, Paul wrote to Timothy seeking to help him through it.
Old pastor Paul was so kind. While other’s were busy making much of Timothy’s youth, Paul was at work affirming Timothy’s manhood. 1 Tim. 6:11 “But as for you, O man of God” Wow! Here was an older man who saw past Timothy’s age. Paul calls Timothy a “Man of God.” Imagine being Timothy. What would it have felt like to hear those words? Paul affirmed Timothy and challenged the older ageists. Paul modeled for the older church members the difference between wisdom and old age. Simultaneously, he helped Timothy avoid returning the favor.
What is the effect of Paul-like older leaders? Secure, Godly, older people have a way of pulling the best out of young leaders. Young leaders desperately need older voices in their life. Young men and women. Don’t let the few who despise your youth callus you to everyone with grey hair. Ageism knows know age. It would be good for the young and old to learn from the apostle Paul. Older, do not despise the younger. Younger, do not disregard the older. Ageism has no place among the people of God.