Staying Focus: Don’t Let Anyone Look Down On You Because You Are Young

Most, if not all, of my spiritual growth posts are self-reflective (meaning for myself mostly to contemplate).  This is not one of those posts.  Although it fits right in line with what God’s been showing me lately as far as Staying Focus, I have no doubt that someone else out there needs to hear these words.

 Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.”  1 Timothy 4:12 (ESV)

Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.”  (NLT)

*

I recently was told last week by an older, female friend and mentor whom I’ve known for years now, that there’s something about me that can sometimes convict a person.  Something about me… the way I act, what I do or say (or write here on the blog), that sets them off, and they usually react badly to it because conviction hurts.  Seeing me (or having my life or actions displayed in front of them) hurts.  This older friend with much more life experience than me (in her 40’s) told me that there’s nothing I can do about this.  If I’m living an obviously good life, trying my best in everything because it gives me joy, being a great mom to my kids, treating my husband wonderful and enjoying an above average marriage with him for 8 years, losing the baby weight within 2 weeks because I exercise and take care of my body, and writing articles that are appreciated by many people online on how to be a good wife to your husband, then there’s nothing I can do to help the certain set of people who will look at these things in real life or online, and feel conviction that makes them uncomfortable or even upset in how they are choosing to live their own lives differently.  All these things are positive choices I make in my life everyday, but the unfortunate thing is that they can bring to light other people’s bad choices they are making, taking away their justification for those things and making them feel convicted.

To be bothered at all by any of this, is traveling down one of those roads that leads off of your purpose.  When you start to take that exit, going down that road, you’re taking your eyes off of what God wants you to stay focused on – His Will for your life, His purpose.

If you are young and reading this blog on marriage, spiritual growth, and anti-feminism, you are more than likely doing many things right in your life, and have been for quite some time, and yet you still may get looked down upon because you are young.

If you are a generation Y’er… I am 100% sure you understand what this feels like.  We are termed “The Generation Everyone Loves to Hate.”

It used to be very strange and even emotionally upsetting to me, to find that things I learned and implemented in my marriage at the age of 20, when we literally first got married, were things that people in their 40’s didn’t even understand.  The emotionally upsetting part was being looked down upon by those people who are older, and yet have problems in their marriage that we’ve never had because we were wiser and avoided those pitfalls.  To be at a further stage in maturity and marital growth than couples who had been married as long as we’d been alive, was disturbing and emotionally upsetting.  But to be looked down upon by those people, or discounted, was frustrating or even infuriating.

I once even had an older woman come right out and tell me that even though what I was saying was exactly correct advice for her marriage, that because she was offended at my ability to understand or know it, that she was rejecting it.  Someone that was my age (22) at the time, shouldn’t have been able to advise her correctly on her issues when she was in her 40’s, and when I did, it made her extremely angry.  And to think, she had actually come to me asking for my advice!

Things like this used to bother me.  It hurt to have my wisdom or knowledge almost be “despised” because of my youth.  Like because I was so young, that my knowledge didn’t matter or even count for anything.

Why did it bother me so much back then?  Because I allowed it to.  The feelings of being discounted because of my youth, because we looked like babies (well, we still do…), got the best of me, and I strayed off course into a pity party of complaining to God about feeling so misjudged or misunderstood.

It’s not your job to make everyone understand or “get” you.

You may be young, but living life trying to do the best and right thing, and be ahead of many of your peers, but there will always be people who will try to define you, and completely get you wrong.

This was a lesson that took me a long time to learn.  Being someone who loved people, and wanted to have unity and peace, I constantly sought for understanding, even when someone was resistant to it like a duck is to water.  Sometimes, understanding or peace never came, only God can soften hearts that have been hardened.  The Bible talks about prophets shaking off the dust from their feet when they were rejected in certain towns.  Likewise, you must shake off the dust from your feet when you have tried to achieve understanding or unity with someone who is resistant to it.  The prophets were prescribed this practice of shaking off the dust from the place of rejection because it literally represented shaking off the emotional entanglements of that frustration so that they could then refocus on their next journey, their next town that God would send them to.

Shaking off the “dust” or frustration of being rejected or misunderstood is critical to being able to Stay Focus.

*

I don’t know why, but I’ve always had the desire in my heart to seek out wisdom.  When I was only a little girl, I would pray for God to give me wisdom, and by the time I was in my late teens and early 20’s, I was regularly the one my friends would come to for advice, especially on relationships.  God gave me a spirit that is teachable, a spirit that wants to learn.  It is also a tenderhearted spirit, that has often been too naive in trusting others or believing they have good intentions because they call themselves Christian.

Even though God’s blessed me in this area of my life, I have felt the sting of having been judged and looked down upon by people twice my age, who didn’t have as great a marriage as I have had, who, to be honest, didn’t even understand many things about marriage or healthy maturity that I actually understood at that time.  So when Paul wrote to Timothy, not to allow anyone to look down upon him just because he was young, I get it.  It’s part of Timothy’s journey to stay focus and not be distracted by the pain of being judged by ignorant, older Christians who want to define or limit Timothy, his ability, and his life.  There will always be people who will want to define you and your life, even though they will get it wrong.  Trying to explain yourself or explain the plans God has for you to people who are defining you wrong, is futile.  They should not be defining you, period.  God is the one who is marking out your path, He is the One who helps you stay on course.  Dialoging with people who want to define you wrongly, or put limits around what God is doing in your life or will do in the future, is straying off course, and is taking attention away from what you should be focusing on concerning your purpose.

Why did Paul feel he needed to write this passage to Timothy?

Because people who are older have a tendency to look down on people who are younger.  They want to feel as though they know or understand more, and if they see that a younger person knows or understands more than them, they may not have the humility to admit it.

It comes natural for the older Christians to prejudge the younger ones, to think they don’t know as much as they know about marriage or life.  To have misconceptions about them and their life experience.  To think that they can’t know or understand what they actually do know or understand.  It can be simple ignorance in not understanding (or even knowing) the young person they’re communicating with, or it can be a very nasty sin and situation of looking down on others in pride and ambition.  Whether it’s done out of ignorance or out of pride, it can be dangerous to the younger people as it usually hurts them to some degree.

They may feel like their opinion, even if it is wise, doesn’t matter.  Or that their own personal life experience, even though they have overcome great challenges and learned secrets of success in a variety of trials, is completely disregarded because of their age.

Let me tell you, young person who may be reading this:  Your opinion does matter.  Your experience matters.  Your wisdom that God has given you by grace, matters – it matters greatly!  You need to share it.  If He’s put these words in your heart and given you all this knowledge in your head… you have a responsibility to share it.

Because You Are Young, You Are God’s Weapon

God uses the simple and the young, to shame the complicated and old.  He uses what looks to be foolish, to shame what should be the wise.  You… are His chosen weapon.  You… in all your youth and lack of age or life experience, have the ability, the God-gifted ability, to shame someone twice your age with the beauty of the knowledge and wisdom that He has blessed you with.

Don’t hold it back.

Stay Focus.

And don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young.

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25 thoughts on “Staying Focus: Don’t Let Anyone Look Down On You Because You Are Young

  1. This is a really interesting article, Dragonfly! Very thought-provoking.

    “I once even had an older woman come right out and tell me that even though what I was saying was exactly correct advice for her marriage, that because she was offended at my ability to understand or know it, that she was rejecting it. Someone that was my age (22) at the time, shouldn’t have been able to advise her correctly on her issues when she was in her 40’s, and when I did, it made her extremely angry. And to think, she had actually come to me asking for my advice!”

    How curious that she asked you for the advice then rejected it. I wonder if she came to you (someone younger) just expecting you to help her rationalize her sin?

    I go out of my way not to offer advice to those older than me. There are some older couples I know in real life who seem to have very hard marriages that would almost certainly be improved by applying basic Biblical principles, but I would never dream of telling them this.
    I think that’s why Paul told Timothy to “but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” We should set an example that people can see/hear and apply to their own lives themselves, rather than just constantly talking about what they should do to improve. Words they can dismiss, but a whole life speaks for itself.

  2. “I think that’s why Paul told Timothy to “but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” We should set an example that people can see/hear and apply to their own lives themselves, rather than just constantly talking about what they should do to improve. Words they can dismiss, but a whole life speaks for itself.”

    Yes, but look at what he said before he told Timothy to set that example… he told him to not let himself be looked down upon. A major part of my post was that you can be living right, setting the perfect example, and still be looked down upon. They actually can and often do dismiss a whole life that speaks for itself. I’ve seen it many times. (I think it could be anything, rationalization of their own sins, denial, their own pride, etc. People will see what they want to see, and part of what my mentor told me was that when they have something against you in their heart, they will go looking for things to nit-pick about you, to argue with you, anything to prove in their mind that you are doing something wrong, because of their conviction when around you that they don’t want to feel).

  3. It comes from an issue of the heart – a pride issue – when they see their life, their godly example, and get upset (feel convicted) because of their youth.

    Because it’s going to happen (it’s human nature to some degree), Paul warns Timothy so that he isn’t hung up on it, so that he can pursue his purpose, shaking the dust off from the rejection or dismissal.

  4. But I don’t think Paul is saying that people will despise you if you are young and setting a good example. I think he is saying people might despise/look down on you if you are young and living in a foolish way (often associated with youth).
    So the way you “don’t let them look down on you” is by setting a good example in the way you live.

    I’ve thought a bit about how we do this well online, or if it’s even possible. How do we “set a good example in how we live”, when everything people see about us is things we have said about ourselves?
    For me personally, I try to share “lessons” as well as present struggles I am going through. But even then, it is still an image being presented.

    You are right that many people do respond to conviction by putting up walls of pride. But perhaps your life, and the thing that convicted them, will have planted a seed and the Spirit will bring fruit out of it when their heart is ready…

    I often feel encouraged reading about your life here on the blog, and sometimes even a little prodded to improve 😉

  5. But why would he say that then to Timothy, who was already living an above average life. With wisdom beyond his age? Doing things that people twice his age were not brave enough to do for God?

  6. Much of the content of Paul’s letters is reminding people to continue in the things they already know and are doing. Paul is reminding Timothy to keep setting a good example in the way he is living, so that he will not be looked down on for his youth. If you read on a few verses Paul says to Timothy: “Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. Watch your life and doctrine closely.”
    So he is saying that Timothy is not “there” yet (no one is!), but he needs to keep making progress, and doing so in a public way.

  7. “I’ve thought a bit about how we do this well online, or if it’s even possible. How do we “set a good example in how we live”, when everything people see about us is things we have said about ourselves?
    For me personally, I try to share “lessons” as well as present struggles I am going through. But even then, it is still an image being presented.”

    Aww SS, this honestly sounds like discouragement… “if it’s even possible.” Why would it not be possible? Why can you not write about your own life and the lessons you’ve learned, using in confidence, the platform and wisdom God’s given you through grace, to reach other people and encourage them? Just because it’s online and they can’t see if your actions are authentic?

    Of course they should be authentic, but remember what Jesus said about the Pharisees who said everything right, told people the right things to do, but lived different lives and had major heart issues? Jesus actually commanded people to listen to the Pharisees anyway, to do what they said (because it was correct), and just not to be like them in not internalizing it. But even Jesus was ok with people (Pharisees) putting a false image of themselves out there and teaching others the correct things to do.

    God knows people’s hearts, so someone who is rejecting good teaching or a good example based on petty issues, is rejecting it from a heart issue themselves.

  8. 🙂
    It’s not that I’m discouraged, it’s just sometimes I struggle to know where the line is between sharing too much or too little. My husband is a huge help with this – I often ask him whether to share something or not, and he helps me figure out if it would actually be helpful to others.
    But you are right – God knows the heart.

    Just curious – where did Jesus tell people to listen to the Pharisees?

  9. Yes, I ask my husband all the time 😀 Sometimes he will veto it!

    Jesus endorses the Pharisees:

    “Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy loads and put them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.
    “Everything they do is done for men to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted in the marketplaces and to have men call them ‘Rabbi.’
    “But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have only one Master and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called ‘teacher,’ for you have one Teacher, the Christ. The greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”
    —Matthew 23:1-12, NIV

  10. “Maybe endorses their teachings but not their actions?”

    Thinking on this passage further overnight…. I’m not sure Jesus even does that, to be honest.

    If you look back at Matthew 16:5-12 – Jesus tells his disciples to guard against the teachings of the Pharisees and Saducees, not to listen to them.

    So when we come to Matthew 23, and Jesus says: “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must obey them and do everything they tell you.”
    I think he is simply stating that they have authority (self-declared authority) so the people are in a position where they “must” obey them. But then he goes on to harshly denounce them, all the way through to the end of chapter 23.

    I don’t think it’s correct to say this then:
    “But even Jesus was ok with people (Pharisees) putting a false image of themselves out there and teaching others the correct things to do.”
    Given how heavily he comes down on the Pharisees for doing that, I don’t think he is “ok” with it.

  11. Maybe read some commentaries on the Greek and meaning of the text. He’s telling people to listen to their correct teaching, because it is correct like I said, so He is “ok” with them continuing to do that. But He warns people not to do as they do because they don’t practice what they preach. He’s not ok with them acting like hypocrites, but He is **allowing** them to be in their position of authority and put false images of themselves out there.

    My point in saying that He was “ok” with it, is that He allows it, SS. If He wasn’t ok with it, He would tell the people *not* to listen to them at all, because they’re hypocrites. He doesn’t say not to listen to them… He says the opposite, TO listen to them, even though they put out there a false image of themselves.

    Hope that helps you understand!

  12. So basically… since you brought up the criticism of how can we represent good lives and be good examples at all online even when people (online people) don’t know us or see us interact daily to see if we’re really who we present on our blogs, the argument of if it’s even possible doesn’t really matter.

    Jesus allows people to run blogs and present false images of themselves I’m sure. If they’re teaching good things, even if they have bad motivations, He allows it because the teachings are correct.

    There is a passage in Philippians with Paul talking about this sort of thing as well. Apparently, there were people who were preaching Christ’s testimony and doing so with bad motivations. Paul said that even though these people were preaching from a bad place in their heart, that it didn’t matter because Christ’s Word was getting out there.

    Being hung up on if someone is authentic or not, as an excuse to reject their good teaching like I said, reveals a heart issue within the person rejecting the good teaching.

  13. Paul’s example of how to react to people having bad motivations (being hypocrites especially) is basically the same theme of the post: To stay focus. To not be bothered by it, because it doesn’t matter in the end, God will deal with the hypocrites.

    Paul was writing that from prison, and even in prison there were these people trying to passive aggressively hurt him by competing with him in preaching the gospel. But he gives this example for us to learn from, that the motivations of people don’t matter so much if they are being used to get the good news (or Truth) out. Be sure, they will eventually be punished for it, even possibly on earth. But his example of talking about it, and then showing us that it doesn’t even bother him at all because in the end, they’re getting the good news out there, is an example to press on, to stay focus, to not be derailed with anger or bitterness that they get to “get away” with doing good things with bad motivations.

  14. Hey SS, exciting news!

    I looked into the commentaries and text about 1 Timothy 4:12 and it looks like we’re both correct. Your example was obviously correct, mine (of not letting people look down on you because you’re young even if you’re living right) was also correct because the meaning in the Greek text seems to be two-fold there. The next phrase saying to set an example is because of what you said – so that your youthful foolishness won’t destroy your testimony, but also what I said – so that you can prove people wrong who DO look down on you because of your youth through your living right.

    So interesting…

    Here is the International Children’s version as well, it almost explains it the way the greek text did:

    “12 You are young, but do not let anyone treat you as if you were not important. Be an example to show the believers how they should live. Show them with your words, with the way you live, with your love, with your faith, and with your pure life.”

  15. It’s very strange how the Greek says it’s directed towards Timothy’s community, also to Timothy “in sense.” ” To not allow his authority to be limited by others because of his youth.”

  16. Thank you for looking that up, that certainly clears things up! It fits well with a strong NT theme of doing good so you give people no excuse to say bad things about you, or ruin the message of the gospel. Like 1 Peter 2:15: “For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people.”

    I also looked up a commentary regarding the Matthew 23 passage.
    You are right that Jesus allows the office/position of the Pharisees to continue and tells people to listen to what they teach, but his instruction to listen to them only extends as far as they are repeating and correctly explaining the law of Moses. It’s not a blanket approval for everything they teach.
    So yes, they are allowed to teach (rather than being removed), for the sake of the good things they do say, but I certainly don’t think we can take their example of teaching good things but living hypocritical lives and say that’s a good example to follow because Jesus allowed it.

    “So basically… since you brought up the criticism of how can we represent good lives and be good examples at all online even when people (online people) don’t know us or see us interact daily to see if we’re really who we present on our blogs, the argument of if it’s even possible doesn’t really matter.”

    Oh, I hope you didn’t take that as a criticism of you! I just meant, this is something I’ve thought through as a blogger myself, and something which I think all Christian bloggers should examine in themselves.
    I meant that if Paul encouraged Timothy to silence his critics by setting a good example, how do we do this online? How is it even possible to set a good example when people online don’t actually observe us? They can only observe our words about ourselves…

  17. but I certainly don’t think we can take their example of teaching good things but living hypocritical lives and say that’s a good example to follow because Jesus allowed it.

    I totally agree, I tried to say that He condemned their behavior and not internalizing their teachings (that they didn’t practice what they preached).

    “Oh, I hope you didn’t take that as a criticism of you! “

    No, not at all! I mean, I understand that my blog would fall into that criticism for people, but there are many people who read my blog that are involved in my real life 😀 But I just meant that since you were bringing up that basic criticism… just that the argument doesn’t really matter (shouldn’t be something that people necessarily concern themselves about) because God will deal with people like that in His own time. It’s not for us to get all upset or concerned much over in my opinion. I love how Paul just wasn’t concerned about the passive aggressive people who were preaching out of wrong motives. It’s in the book of Joy (Philippians is basically an entire book on how to have joy in all circumstances)… so one of the secrets (I think) to having joy is when there are passive aggressive types competing with you, or writing out of wrong motives or heart issues, not to concern yourself with it. It’s straying off your course of keeping focus. It’s interesting that Paul seemed to talk a bit about facing ahead, pushing on toward the end goal, finishing the race marked out for him, etc. He was very interested in “staying focused,” and gave us all these little hints to follow his example to lead a purpose-filled, joyful, distraction-free life.

  18. I meant that if Paul encouraged Timothy to silence his critics by setting a good example, how do we do this online? How is it even possible to set a good example when people online don’t actually observe us? They can only observe our words about ourselves…

    You can’t. 😦 People will see what they want to see. This was my mentor friend’s main point. No matter how good you are living, even in front of people in real life, they may never choose to admit that you are doing things right – especially if the things they see you doing (or setting an example of) convict them somehow. I’d never been told that my life – the way I act or am (talking about real life here) – makes people feel uncomfortable LOL… talk about giving me a complex 😛 . She was talking about people in real life who actually don’t even know me, but have attacked me personally twice in the past and continue to hold a very skewed view of me. Their attacks have always been unprovoked and very random, they are Christian, and seem to look for things that aren’t there in my life so that they can have a “reason” to attack me personally.

    Her point was that, I’m doing everything right, even by them, but they may always choose to find something wrong to hold against me in their hearts, and there is nothing I can (or should) do about it.

    Part of staying focused is not worrying about things like that… because you can’t help someone who’s heart is hardened toward you. Only God can. She also said that the best thing is to pray about it.

  19. And it’s funny… she was actually more concerned with all of it than i was. I think I’ve just come to accept these things.

    Ever since that road picture and conviction, it’s really been a peaceful blessings in just accepting things like this, and understanding that God doesn’t want me to be worried about any of it, but to just stay focused on the things He’s already using me to do… right now. 🙂

  20. It must have been very hurtful to have people reject you in real life for no good reason. 😦
    You’re totally right that we can only live the way God wants us to, we can’t control how others will live or react to us.

  21. Well, people see what they want to see, I’m sure looking for reasons not to like someone works. If you go looking for contention with someone, you’ll create it out of nothing.

    It’s not hurtful to me, I’ve come to the point where I see reactions like that and feel very sorry for the person. Deep compassion, because they are allowing their emotions (and actions) to control them completely, and are obviously not in a good place in their life or they wouldn’t be how they are.

  22. Pingback: Criticism & Being a Stumbling Block | All Things Bright and Beautiful

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