Are You an Example to Those Who Believe

By: Rev. Sam Harris; ©2001
Paul told Timothy to “be an example to those who believe.” Rev. Harris suggests some tools to help us work that out practically in our lives.

Are You an Example to Those Who Believe?


I’m a young pastor, just out of seminary, and in my first church. Most of my congrega­tion is older than me, and I am struggling with what I perceive as a lack of respect due to my youthfulness. I have been reading through 1 Timothy and was reminded, once again, of Paul’s words to Timothy in 4:12—”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.” Could you suggest any helpful thoughts and words of encouragement?


Thanks for such an honest question; we have all been there and have the tee shirt to prove it! There are several important things that I have learned over the years, and moving from church to church, that have proved most helpful, and I learned them from the advice of several older pastor friends.

First of all, it takes time to build the trust level among your people. By time, I mean a year or more. You are the “new kid on the block” and many of them have been there for years. As in any profession, you have to build the trust level as you minister to and interact with them.

Secondly, it’s important to go “slowly.” You, no doubt, have many great ideas and minis­tries that you envision for the church in order that it might grow and be an effective witness in the community.

The seven last words of the church are these: “We have never done it this way before!” That’s why it is important to build the trust level, and for your people to see that, as a man of God, you are seeking the Lord’s direction for His church. Whatever the Lord leads your church to be involved in, the congregation needs to have a sense of own­ership which commits them to participate.

You mentioned 1 Timothy 4:12, so let’s take a closer look at this passage for some good wisdom and helpful tools to build the trust level with your congregation:

  • Speech: implies that your words should always be honest and loving. As Paul reminds us in Ephesians 4:15, “Speaking the truth in love.”
  • Conduct: suggests that our lives are to be controlled by the Word of God. Our “walk” must match our “talk.” You remember Paul telling Titus in 1:16 that we are not to be like the hypocrites as they profess to know God, but the works deny Him.
  • Love: points to the motivation in our lives. We do not obey God to reap the praise of men, but because we love God and desire to love and serve His people. “Agape love” is the glue that binds us together.
  • Faith: points out that we trust God and desire to be faithful to Him and the work He has called us to do. Faith leads to faithfulness.
  • Purity: this is an unconquerable allegiance to the standards of Jesus. Bythis I mean we are to have a standard of honor, honesty, self-control, chastity, and discipline that are far above the world’s standards.

Sometimes, we learn these lessons the hard way, but by God’s grace and our own repentance, we are forgiven and restored.

May God richly bless you as you begin your service in the part of the Kingdom where He has placed you.

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