Can Young People Serve God?

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Can young people serve God?Scripture makes it clear young people can serve God. John wrote Revelation in the mid-to-late 90’s. Considering John became Jesus’ disciple almost seventy years before that, he was probably only a teenager when called by the Lord. And he probably wasn’t the only one.

Matthew 17:24-27 records Jesus and Peter paying the temple tax, which was required of everyone twenty and older (Exodus 30:13-14). Although the other disciples were present, they didn’t  pay it; implying they were still teenagers.

Some of The Twelve had established jobs (Peter, Andrew, James, and John were fisherman, and Matthew was a tax collector), but Jewish schooling typically concluded around twelve. This would’ve given them plenty of time to begin these occupations in their teenage years.

Any reason Jesus might have wanted the disciples to be young? They had a lot of service ahead of them after Jesus died. Spread the Gospel. Found the church (Ephesians 2:20). Jesus’ ascension was the beginning of their ministry.

As a result, the disciples are one of the best examples in Scripture of young people faithfully serving and following Christ. They encourage teenagers to believe God has great things for them, not only in the future, but now.

Young people serve God throughout Scripture…

Paul told Timothy, “Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Tim 4:12).

Despite Timothy’s age he was expected to be an example to those around him, including some number of older people.

Consider the conversation that took place between God and His prophet in Jeremiah 1:4-6:

Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying:
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you;
Before you were born I sanctified you;
I ordained you a prophet to the nations.”
Then said I:
“Ah, Lord God!
Behold, I cannot speak, for I am a youth.”

Jeremiah thought he was too young so God said, “Oh, okay, I didn’t realize your age. Why don’t you spend the next decade or so goofing off, playing video games, watching movies, and after that get serious about serving Me.”

Nope. Jeremiah 1:7 says:

But the Lord said to me:
“Do not say, ‘I am a youth,
For you shall go to all to whom I send you,
And whatever I command you, you shall speak.”

God wouldn’t let Jeremiah use his age as an excuse to avoid serving Him. Jeremiah – like Timothy and the Disciples – is one of the best examples in Scripture that young people serve God.

Becoming an adult has more to do with putting away childish things than it has to do with actual age!

In 1 Corinthians 13:11 Paul said, “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man I put away childish things.”

  • Some young people are more mature than older people because of the childish things they’ve put away.
  • Some older people are more immature than younger people because of the childish things they haven’t put away.

Our society wants to convince young people they aren’t adults until they’re eighteen or twenty-one, and unfortunately this influences thinking about service and maturity. Young people can serve the Lord faithfully well before that, and parents should encourage their children in their ministry and in “[putting] away childish things.”

What are some of the things you’ve seen conflict with young people serving God? Are there any things you had to give up in your service to God?

9 Responses

  1. Absolutely love this post! Thanks for sharing this. I love the verses from Jeremiah! We have to choose to live a life pleasing to the Lord; we can choose to mature in Christ and put away childish things at any time, regardless of age! Charles Spurgeon began preaching when he was 17!

  2. I think that most young people struggle with finding identity and determining the best way to serve God, I worked in young peoples ministry for a long time and that always seemed to be what they struggled with. I understand your thoughts on young people feeling like they have to “grow up” to soon to serve as well. Why not let a kid me a kid and use their amazing energy to serve in more ways that most adults do… LOL…

    1. Hi Matthew,
      I agree with you. I started in ministry as a youth pastor and noticed the same.

      To provide some balance though, I think youth are as aware of church workdays and service opportunities as adults in the church, but they might not show up. And I don’t think it has to do with them feeling like they’re not old enough :).

  3. I love to see families serve the Lord together. When my kids were at home, we had many family ministries that we all did together. Now that my kids are on their own, they still have hearts to serve others. Sometimes, I think that parents think that they will serve the Lord after their kids are grown, but the miss that chance to impact the child’s heart with service for the Lord while they are young.

    1. Hi Kathleen,
      Very well said!

      That’s one thing that drew us to WCC. We largely “do church” as families. Whether it’s Family Camp, Beach Camp, Game Nights, or the Sunday morning worship service, we generally keep families together. And on work days, whether it’s outside or inside the church, we encourage parents to bring their children.

  4. Calling our youth to be accountable seems to be a theme with a lot of folks these days. I think it’s great to encourage a strong mature relationship with the Lord and our youths. This is a great post!

  5. Dear Pastor Scott,
    It never occurred to me that the 12 apostles would be young. I just assumed they would be, you know, about 30-ish, mature. But your sermon Sunday made me mull this over and then realize it makes all the sense “in the world” to choose younger people (especially when the average life span wasn’t very long back then). Your sermons always make me think. Thank you for your diligence in the Word.

    1. Thank you Chris!

      Yes, it fascinated me too in my studying.

      Just yesterday when someone said something about my sermon that was similar to your sentiments, I said I’m the one who’s encouraged and appreciative of people’s heart for the truth when listening. So thank you!

      For any readers, here’s the link to the sermon itself:

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