When we talk about the founding fathers in the United States, we think of stately men. We think of older, experienced men with vast experiences who had had years of leadership under their belts prior to undertaking the founding of a nation. In many cases, these men would be considered too young to manage many businesses today, let alone be responsible for creating the foundation for a new society.
The picture to the right is of a bronze plaque on the floor of Constitution Hall in Philadelphia, PA. Charles Pinckney was a major player in the ratification of the United States Constitution at the tender age of 29. James Madison, whose letters are cited daily in academic circles, was 36 at the Constitutional Convention. There were a number of them that were in their 30’s and 40’s. These, our founding fathers, would be hard pressed to get a job serving one of our modern politicians, being considered far too young.
A major politician expressed his incredulity that Edward Snowden, the prior NSA contractor analyst, could have known what he knows at only the age of 29. This caught my eye because I was in the United States Navy a few years ago (OK, twenty years ago). Just about everybody on the ship had a Secret level clearance, with many having Top Secret and above. The clearances were just a part of the job. My shipmates had immense responsibilities ranging from caring for torpedoes to handling incredibly sensitive information to refueling the ship while underway. Men as young as 19 years old were in positions that, had they made a mistake, they could have put us all in harm’s way. The 29 year olds were in charge! There were only a few onboard in their late 30s! Our nation is protected, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by men and women who are half the age of today’s legislators but are the same ages as our founding fathers!
Young people being discounted simply due to their age is thousands of years old. Remember when Samuel went to the house of Jesse to anoint a King? Samuel wasn’t looking for a boy and Jesse and his sons actually left David out in the field! But what did God tell Samuel?
But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)
I am reading Josephus lately, too. He was already brokering deals with Roman leaders and leading cities at the age of 26. At that age, Josephus went to Rome to negotiate the release of some priests, placing his own life at risk. Can you imagine a 26 year old going to a foreign country today to strike a bargain with some warring tribes? I can. They’re called Unites States Marines and Soldiers.
Back to the scriptures, we have an example in the New Testament of someone who might have had to deal with being considered “too young”:
Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe. (1 Timothy 4:12)
Lastly, there’s somebody else who started their ministry at a rather young age. Somebody rather important. Yeshua’s 3 1/2 year ministry started and ended long before He would be considered relevant in our age. And He had some other things working against Him, too:
But when it was now the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and began to teach. The Jews then were astonished, saying, “How has this man become learned, having never been educated?” (John 7:14-15 NASB)
Not only was the Messiah young, He also did not attend the schools of the learned. The scribes, Pharisees, and Sadducces has a whole lot of reason not to listen to Yeshua. Here a guy walks into a synagogue, never attended the approved schools, is young, and teaches accurately and with authority. The establishment was none too happy about this!
What are the takeaways from today’s blog? It’s simple: don’t discount people because of their youth. We all know and teach the youth to respect their elders. In most cases experience is the key to wisdom. Sometimes, though, a fresh perspective will generate a revelation that people who have studied things for years have missed. God told Samuel that He judges the hearts of men, not the appearance. That is a great lesson for us all. And to our young believers, don’t be discouraged from serving and witnessing because perhaps you think you are too young (or worse, someone has told you so). Your friends and acquaintances need to know Yeshua and who best to tell them but someone their own age? Further, how can the church of God grow if the next generation is not allowed to grow into the leadership roles they will have to fill someday.
And besides, aren’t we all to come to Messiah as babies?