What do you want to be when you’re older?
We’ve probably been asked this question more times than we count. It’s been a topic of discussion, thinking, and imagination all through our childhood. Personally, I can confirm this as a fact – I’ve changed from wanting to be a pilot at eight years old, to a writer at 9, to a graphic designer at 12… The list was endless, and it’s still growing to this day.
Even as teenagers, ‘growing older’ is still a concept our minds often linger on. At an age where we’re not children but haven’t quite reached adulthood either, being older and more mature still seems to hover on the horizon of the distant future.
Because we don’t consider ourselves to be ‘old’ yet, our years still seem to stretch out before us, and, surrounded by a culture driven by YOLO (You Only Live Once), we’re often tempted to join them living life for now.
What we want to do, now. What makes us happy now. What contents us, now. What makes us feel purposeful now. Everything else we can do later – when we’re older.
Even with our calling as Christians that we’re exposed to every Sunday Service or Bible study, although we may say aloud that we’re going to evangelise to our friends and serve God, our minds often add a whispered “when I’m older” to our claims.
Because how can ordinary teens like us serve God?
Shouldn’t we wait until we’re older and more mature before answering God’s calling?
When I’m Older
Picture the scene: It’s Sunday, and the Sunday service has ended. Feeling inspired by the sermon’s message to evangelise to those around us and serve God through ministry, you promise to start living the gospel through your life. But as time goes on and everyday school life brings about its standard sets of situations and struggles, the drive to minister starts to falter. The gospel just seems so out of place in the daily busyness of life. And it’s often during such times that we make the all-too-familiar excuse – “I’ll serve when the time is better. I’ll just wait until I’m older and have more opportunities.”
What we often don’t realise is that, that ‘perfect’ time to evangelise doesn’t exist. It’ll never be the right time to tell a friend the Gospel or start ministry. If we keep waiting and delaying until we feel we’re more ‘experienced,’ we’re never going to start. Just like how Paul urges Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:2, “Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage.” Later on, in verse 5, Paul repeats this instruction, saying, “But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.”
Evangelising and living lives that reflect His Word isn’t restricted to ‘good’ times – we’re meant to make use of every opportunity to share the Gospel, even if it comes at great personal cost.
Living devoted lives as teenagers starts now – not somewhere in the near future, but now because we are part of the Church’s community.
The Church is called to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:16-20). This calling isn’t specified to our parents or adults – God calls the whole church. We, too, are tasked with this mission.
But even with this, we sometimes still feel insufficient to share the gospel with our friends. Because, aren’t we still too young? Will anyone even listen to us anyway?
Serving God Now
We’re probably familiar with the person of Timothy in the Bible. Through his believer mother, Eunice, and grandmother, Lois, Timothy was guided in the Christian faith. Paul chose Timothy as his successor to carry on the work of the gospel, and he accompanied Paul on several missionary journeys. He also served as Paul’s representative to numerous churches, such as those in Corinthians and Philippians, before becoming a pastor in a church at Ephesus.
Even though Timothy had a strong faith in God, he still doubted himself – just like us, he wondered if he was too young to serve God. Paul encourages him in his first letter, instructing him as follows: “Command and teach these things. Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity.” (1 Timothy 4:11-12).
Even though we may not feel ‘old’ enough to start serving God effectively, we must remember that God has given us many gifts and opportunities to serve Him even in our teen years. We’ve been given talents, opportunities, and our youth. Why waste them?
As it says in Ecclesiastes 11:9, “You who are young, be happy while you are young, and let your heart give you joy in the days of your youth. Follow the ways of your heart and whatever your eyes see, but know that for all these things, God will bring you into judgment.”
Even though we may not be able to travel to other countries on missionary journeys to preach the gospel, we still can evangelise to those around us. Whether they be our school friends, family, community, or anyone who doesn’t yet know the truth of the gospel, we can share His Word to them by living devoted lives to God. “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.” (1 Timothy 4:15)
Living devoted lives for God doesn’t start when we’re older or when the ‘right’ time comes.
Living a devoted life starts now.
Elaine (Anggi) Tambunan (14) is the editor and one of the many teens that write in RE Generation-Z. Through her articles, she aspires to remind more teens to live lives as lights in the world. She can be easily identified with a spectacled face buried in a thick novel or doodling.