“Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” (1 Timothy 4:12)
I once read that when Gen. George C. Marshall took command of the Infantry School at Fort Benning, GA, he found the post in a run-down condition. Rather than issue orders for specific improvements, he simply got out his own paintbrushes and lawn equipment, and went to work on his personal quarters. The other officers and men, first on his block, then throughout the post, did the same thing, and soon Fort Benning was looking good again. Gen. Marshall showed leadership by example.
The Apostle Paul was a great advocate of leadership by example, and it is reflected in his writings. First Timothy is one of three letters written by Paul to two of his associates – Timothy and Titus. The letters are called the Pastoral Letters because they are full of advice on how to pastor a church.
Timothy, who was ministering to the early Christians in Ephesus, was one of Paul’s most beloved and devoted associates. Paul’s letter provided Timothy with insightful guidelines for public worship, selection of church leaders, dealing with false teachers, and advice on being a good minister.
In this passage of Scripture, Paul gives Timothy instructions on how a young minister can operate in authority despite his youth. They are important instructions because they certainly apply to us as well. Just as Timothy was told to be an example, it is important that we as believers also heed Paul’s advice.
Paul basically was telling Timothy that it is not enough as a minister to just teach the Word of God, but a good minister must live the Word of God. In other words, “if you’re going to talk the talk, you’ve got to walk the walk.”
Paul lists six areas that refer to various aspects of our life, and in this he presents a blueprint of how a good minister (or a good Christian) is supposed to act. So, let’s look at each of these areas.