First Timothy 4:12 reads, “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.”
These words were written from the apostle Paul to a young man named Timothy, who was a leader in a church Paul started. First Timothy is a little book with big ideas—like what it means to be shaped by the gospel and how to deal with false teachers. In the middle of all that heavy stuff, this little gem of a verse glimmers and grabs our attention. Paul is telling Timothy that he doesn’t have to sit on the sidelines just because he’s young. In fact, Paul encourages Timothy to set the bar for others in the church.
Turn that verse over in your mind a few times, and this pearl will emerge: Just because you’re young doesn’t mean you can’t do big things with your life. In fact, God’s Word calls you to set an example for others, including those who are older than you. Paul urged Timothy to live in such a way that others could not look down their noses at him. He asked Timothy to do such big things with his faith that others would have no choice to look up.
I’d like to give you the exact same challenge. (That’s what “Stand for Truth Thursday” is all about!)
It doesn’t matter how old you are; you can set an example for believers of all ages and stations in life.
Do something now! Don’t wait until you’re older or have your ducks all lined up in a neat little row to be willing to be used by God. It doesn’t matter how old you are; you can set an example for believers of all ages and stations in life. You can show them what it looks like to stand on the foundation of God’s truth. You can let God use you for something so big that others look up to you and ultimately see Him.
Don’t believe me? Check out these stories of real people just like you who are doing big things for Jesus before they even graduate from high school.
Madison Learns to Hug a Bear, Not a Boy
Madison was just a normal thirteen-year-old girl when God gave her a big assignment. She went on a mission trip where she heard God’s truth about purity. She committed to save her heart and her body for her husband, but it didn’t feel like enough. God used that trip to light a fire in her heart to share the importance of purity with other girls. But how would she do that? She wasn’t a speaker like the one she had heard on the mission trip. She didn’t have opportunities to talk to thousands of students about staying pure. She didn’t have a website or a book deal or a platform. She was just a girl who happened to still have math homework. What could she do to spread God’s truth about purity?
The idea hit her all at once—a bear. What if she found a way to encourage her friends to hug a bear and not a boy?
She called up seven friends and invited them to the mall. They each bought a bear and then gathered at a table in the food court. They wrote letters to their future husbands and put them inside the bear. They prayed for each other to remain pure, and they promised to hold each other accountable.
Madison now manages a ministry that allows her to speak about purity to girls across the nation. Hundreds of girls now have a boyfriend bear to hold as an alternative to romantic relationships outside of God’s timing.
Madison told me she has been made fun of for taking a stand and that responding to God’s call hasn’t always been easy, but it’s worth it.
Asbury Asks Hard Questions
During the research for my book My Name Is Erin: One Girl’s Mission to Make a Difference, I found a youth group in Asbury, Oklahoma, where standing for God’s truth is a big deal. The youth pastors have a chosen theme they pound into their student’s heads: “Junior high students can change the world.” They are intentional about teaching students the same principle that Paul taught Timothy—that God wants to use them right now, even though they’re young. The youth pastors told me that many of their students felt the first tug on their hearts to live out their faith in middle school. The leaders simply responded by saying, “Don’t wait. Go for it!”
The results have been amazing.
- Geneva organized a project called “Loose Change to Loosen Chains.” She raised more than $500 for the International Justice Mission, an organization that rescues victims of violence, sexual exploitation, slavery, and oppression.
- Mallory raised $350 by working in her neighborhood all summer babysitting, raking leaves, etc. She donated every cent to charity.
- One group of students made $600 selling bracelets. They gave it all away to fund ministry.
- One student organized a community-wide water balloon fight to raise awareness and funds for those in need.
The Asbury youth pastors told us that completing these short-term assignments often merged into long-term commitments. Once students were bit with the bug to serve others and stand for truth, they wanted to do more. Many of them now lead small groups, teach others, or volunteer in other ministries of the church.
Insert Your Story Here
Standing for truth doesn’t have to look like preaching from a street corner or confronting students with a different worldview who go to your school. These stories show us it can mean encouraging friends to pursue purity with a cuddly bear or throwing a water balloon to raise funds for a ministry that’s making a difference.
When you think of standing for truth, I want you to think of this:
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves (James 1:22).
Every time you do what God’s Word says instead of simply letting it go in one ear and out the other, you are taking a stand for God’s truth.
I’d love to hear your story. How have you felt God nudging you to stand for truth? How can you set an example for others while you still have math homework?