Did you know that many of the great heroes of faith were actually young people?
Many of these individuals were either youths or young adults when their lives became testimonies for all time.
They were people who followed God wholeheartedly in the golden years of youth.
Here are a few of them who have set examples we can glean important lessons from!
Samuel: The boy who listened to God’s voice
Samuel was around 12 years old when God spoke to him in 1 Samuel 3.
That night, he was serving Eli in the tabernacle when he mistook God’s voice for his mentor’s.
Not once, not twice, but three times.
Despite his unfamiliarity with the things of God, Samuel’s eagerness to respond was undeniable. Each time, he ran to Eli immediately after his name is called.
It got me thinking about the importance of being ready to listen and to serve.
Samuel had availability. That’s why he was able to pay attention to God once Eli guided him to the right source of the voice (1 Samuel 3:10 NLT).
Like Samuel, many of us aren’t familiar with the voice of God. It is easy to doubt if we heard correctly at all, or attribute what we heard to other sources.
That is why we have to be intentional in spending time with God, so that we grow to recognise the way He speaks.
God doesn’t discriminate when it comes to drawing near to Him. He talks to all of us personally regardless of age.
And just like how he used Samuel to warn Eli about what was to come (1 Samuel 3:18 NLT), God can use you too.
If you open your spiritual ears, He can share what’s on His heart with you.
Jeremiah: The teenage mouthpiece of truth
Jeremiah started his ministry journey with some doubt, much like many of us do.
When God called him to be a prophet, Jeremiah responded in uncertainty (Jeremiah 1:6, ESV).
The teenager bargained with God that he was “only a youth”, but that excuse did not stand.
God encouraged Jeremiah not to focus on his age, and assured him that he would not be alone (Jeremiah 1:7-8, ESV).
“If you utter what is precious, and not what is worthless, you shall be as my mouth.” (Jeremiah 15:19, ESV)
As such, Jeremiah went on to be used mightily by the Lord. Though the hearts of the people of Judah were hardened, he spoke God’s truths relentlessly.
Despite seasons of discouragement and disillusionment, God comforted the young man and designated him as His mouthpiece.
God was not looking at the ability of Jeremiah to change the people’s hearts – that wasn’t the prophet’s job.
Instead, God honoured Jeremiah’s obedience and his courage to share boldly and perseveringly.
Mary: The young woman who trusted in God’s inconceivable plan
Now let’s talk about Mary, the mother of Jesus.
Scholars believe she was in her teens when she conceived, since it was the norm to be pledged to marriage at around that age (Matthew 1:18).
Though we don’t know exactly how old Mary was, she was definitely in her youth.
And if I was a young lady yet to be married, I wouldn’t be particularly excited about being suddenly pregnant.
We read about Mary’s experience in Luke 1:26-38, where an angel appeared to prepare her for what was to come.
Initially, Mary was “greatly troubled” and expressed confusion and doubt (Luke 1:29-34, ESV).
But eventually, we see Mary’s submissive heart shine through as she obeyed God (Luke 1:38, ESV), yielding completely to His will and purpose.
God’s plan was unthinkable – even absurd to human minds. But Mary chose to go beyond her worldly understanding to let God work through her in a higher way.
Eventually, she became the vessel through which the Messiah was birthed into this world.
We will not always be able to comprehend what God calls us to (Isaiah 55:8-9, ESV).
However, we can choose to put aside our need to know everything, and instead put our trust in the One who already does.
Joseph: The uncompromising 17-year-old
Most of us would be familiar with the story of a young boy in a colourful coat who was sold by his brothers into slavery.
Joseph’s story begins in Genesis 37, where he shared two prophetic dreams with his family, faced the jealousy of his brothers, and was sold to Egypt. And it all happened when he was 17 (Genesis 37:2, ESV).
Later, in captivity, Joseph served Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s officials (Genesis 39:1, ESV).
Despite the favour God showed Joseph, however, a new obstacle soon arrived – Potiphar’s wife.
Attracted to Joseph’s good looks, she constantly attempted to seduce him. But Joseph stood firm against her requests, showing respect not only to Potiphar, but to God (Genesis 39:8-9, ESV).
Potiphar’s wife was a figure of authority. I can’t imagine going against a request made by my boss.
But Joseph knew who his True Boss was (Colossians 3:23-24, ESV). He was concerned only with walking righteously before God.
Joseph feared the Lord and followed through on God’s commands.
Despite being accused by Potiphar’s wife of rape later on (Genesis 39:13-15, ESV), and eventually being thrown into prison (Genesis 39:20, ESV), God never left Joseph’s side.
The 17-year-old was highly favoured wherever he went, blessed by God and used by Him to save many people (including his own family) from a deadly famine.
Let’s learn from Joseph, knowing that when we choose to live fearlessly and walk faithfully in God’s ways, He will not only honour that but also provide for all our needs.
May we all fulfil our God-given destiny to bring Him glory.
5. The disciples: Young folks who sacrificed everything for Jesus
The disciples were known for many great works throughout their life on earth with Jesus, but not many realise they started their ministry when they were in their youth.
Though their exact age is unknown, it was likely that they dropped everything to follow Jesus in their teens or twenties.
That’s a young age to be giving up their whole lives for something.
May we all fulfil our God-given destiny to bring Him glory.
These disciples had careers going for them; Andrew, Peter, James and John were fishermen. Others like Peter, had already married and built a family.
And they were not all in need either. Matthew, for example, was probably enjoying a luxurious life with his hefty earnings as a tax collector.
When the disciples said yes to Jesus, they were giving up their worldly security and possessions for His Kingdom.
They were saying yes to a life of surrender and complete dependance on the Lord.
But it was also their “yes” that led them to not only witness, but also go on to do some of the greatest works for Jesus.
- They cast out demons and healed the sick (Mark 6:7-13, ESV)
- They helped to feed a crowd of 5,000 with five loaves and two fishes (Matthew 14:13-21, ESV)
- Peter walked on water (Matthew 14:29, ESV)
Miracles aside, they had the greatest privilege of walking alongside Jesus as He lived on earth, being close to Him and listening to His heartbeat for His creation.
Are we willing to be like the disciples? Would we be willing to drop everything to follow His call?
You are never too young (or old)!
This Youth Day, let’s not belittle what the young amongst us can do for God.
If you are in your youth, congratulations! You are in a perfect position to serve God even as you give Him your time and your energy.
But even if you’re not a young person anymore, this article is still for you.
Indeed, maintain a youthful spirit. Add that to your wisdom and experience, you will always have something to bring to the table.
Young or young at heart, let’s all be childlike in our faith.
At the end of the day, we are all children of God made to be totally dependent on our Father.
- How can you use your youth for the glory of God?
- Put your age aside for a moment: What is one thing you sense God calling you to do?
- What is one practical step you can take this week towards obeying and living out this calling of God?