After many years of youth group and then studying catechetics in college, I feel like 1 Timothy 4:12 has been permanently engrained in my brain.
Let no one despise your youth, but set the believers an example in speech and conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.
It always got me fired up to think about this verse. I would think to myself, “Yeah! That’s right! I know I’m young, but the Lord is going to use me and it’s going to be awesome!” But it wasn’t until I recently started my job as a youth minister – fresh out of college – that I realized the difficulty also associated with this verse.
My parish has been incredibly welcoming throughout these last few weeks since arriving and I am unbelievably grateful. But as I settle in, I realize the HUGE task that is before me as a youth minister. The Lord has invited me to share in His work, specifically in His work of bringing souls back to Him. That is no small order. And if that is not enough, I might be a youth minister, but it is not just the souls of the youth that the Lord is calling me to serve, but literally everyone He is placing in my path, many of whom are several years older than me. And if that wasn’t enough, the world absolutely despises this mission I am on and there are spiritual powers working against me to keep me from accomplishing it. And on top of that, I am only 22 years old, fresh out of college, and just trying to wrap my head around what it means to work full-time. So yes, one could say it is very easy to feel very little.
This afternoon I took my Bible and journal to my favorite thinking spot and this passage came up in prayer:
Another parable he put before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed which a man took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches. – Matthew 13:31-32
And I got to thinking, that I literally am this mustard seed. Okay, maybe not literally. But you get what I’m saying. Despite the fact that I feel little, I feel young, and it takes real courage to not use my youth as an excuse for mediocrity, I absolutely know that my work here will be great, because it is the work that the Lord has called me to. This is not pride, but merely the recognition of the fact that the Lord Himself called me to this mission, daunting as it may be at moments. I am doing what He called me to.
And that my friends is true greatness.
It is a paradoxical standard of greatness. No one thinks a mustard seed is great at all; it is TINY. But the seed goes on to thrive and to become a tree, and as the Scripture says, to become a home for the birds. The seed thrives because it knows what it was created to do, and literally cannot take into account what others think it is or is not capable of. It goes on to grow into the plant it is intended to be, not wasting time to even consider the possibility that it might not be able to accomplish what it was created to do. It is enough to trust the Creator’s plan.
In the same way, I have so much courage in my own littleness. I know what I have been created to do, and more than that, I know the One who has invited me to accomplish it. No excuses are necessary, that is enough.