Summary: Whose criteria are you using to evaluate God’s men?
Years ago, sigh, ages ago back in college a professor handed out a humorous letter from a mission board rejecting the Apostle Paul for sundry reasons. I was able to find it and have placed the letter at the end of this message. The author is unknown else I would give appropriate credit.
Having been the recipient of a few such letters over the years I actually find some of the things listed in this parody to be more sensible than some of the reasons given me and my friends while some of them very familiar.
If Paul and Timothy were alive they would find that some things have reversed themselves. In their time there was age discrimination but it was against young men. Timothy was called and gifted enough to be called as the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Ephesus but he did have a problem or so. While being half Greek and half Jewish was a problem on both sides of the cultural street his age was even more a problem. Being twenty-one or so in a culture that revered age as being the criteria for respect or to be considered a wise person made it tough to gain a hearing or do many of the pastoral duties requiring exhortation let alone reproof or rebuke.
1 Tim 4:12 Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. KJV
Thus God inspired Paul to write this to defend Timothy from his detractors as well as to encourage him. After all, if he did meet the requirements of 1 Timothy 3 and could deliver on being the example in this verse then what’s age got to do with it? Hmm, there may be a song in that. What’s age got to do with it, to do with it? My apologies to the Turners.
I know how Timothy must have felt. I was saved at 22 and went to Bible college at 26 after hearing about the hundreds of churches without a pastor. At 30, when I graduated I was five years too young for the average church. They were all looking for someone 35-50 with at least fifteen years experience. That taught me that churches can’t do math very well as to have 15 years experience a lad would have to start at 20 and no one wants anyone younger than 35. How does the 20 year old get that experience? Talk about your Catch-22. The ads should have said no one less than 50 with at least 15 years experience. Timothy would not have had chance at pastoring. He might have been given a crack as Youth Pastor but no way as a Senior or Associate Pastor. FYI, over the years I learned why so many churches do not have pastors. It wasn’t due to lack of men but more often due to lack of sense among the churches but that’s another sermon.
Now, I will agree that experience is a wonderful thing albeit experience is the most expensive teacher and the education takes much longer than the average college route even if you go straight through the longest bachelor, masters and doctorate programs. It can be a tough taskmaster taking a great toll on the student as well. There are no refunds if it doesn’t work out and no papers to certify the training. Only God and scars can accredit that education.
Also, some folks age and experience many things but they never truly learn anything. Their wisdom tank never gets past a quarter full and they seem to leak profusely. On the other hand, many young men seem to quickly pick up on the subject matter and are able to apply it while the older folks have the theory but little to no application. They learn but never come to full knowledge. (2 Tim 3:7) Others have become speed bumps or faulty road signs that never progress on their journey and slow down or misdirect others. Many fuss at the young that have zeal but no knowledge without realizing that they are just as much a problem by having knowledge and no zeal.
5 When Elihu saw that there was no answer in the mouth of these three men, then his wrath was kindled.
6 And Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite answered and said, I am young, and ye are very old; wherefore I was afraid, and durst not shew you mine opinion.
7 I said, Days should speak, and multitude of years should teach wisdom.
8 But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding.
9 Great men are not always wise: neither do the aged understand judgment.