rebelling against low expectations

Don’t Despise Your Own Youth


“Can I just talk to you?” she asked, pausing in our driveway before she left. She had stopped by while running errands, and I’d been helping her find the stuff she’d come to pick up.

“Of course!” I replied, pretty sure I knew where this was going. Sure enough, she began to share some of the emotions and struggles she’d been wrestling through that week. The only reason I knew about them was in trying to help my mom comfort her over text earlier in the week.

But right then, she wanted to talk to me — not my mom — because I’d gone through the same thing she was currently going through. I had done the same wrestling and struggling and mourning and forgiving in a way my mom (thankfully) hadn’t had to.

Now, don’t get me wrong. My mom is an amazing woman with incredible compassion and understanding for things she hasn’t personally gone through.

But here I was . . . comforting and advising a woman almost twice my age as she vented and shared deep struggles in her heart. Shouldn’t it have been the other way around? How dare I think I was in a place to be able to advise, comfort, and help her with that type of thing? Wouldn’t so many other people have been so much better qualified? I didn’t even know her that well!

But here I was . . . comforting and advising a woman almost twice my age as she vented and shared deep struggles in her heart. Share on X

The thing is, that wasn’t the first time it had happened. And it wasn’t the last, either.

But none of the women I found myself comforting and advising cared that I was only seventeen. They had taken 1 Timothy 4:12 to heart and weren’t looking down on me because I was young, but treating me like a fellow sister in Christ.

Again and again, I’m tempted to look down on my own youth. To think I can’t possibly help or encourage those older than me, whether literally older or spiritually older I assume I have nothing to contribute, simply because I am young.

Since I was little, I grew up with high expectations. Maybe not from the culture around me, but from my family. I grew up ministering to those my own age or younger. I led Bible studies and discipleship groups for younger girls. I wrote a book targeted to teens.

And that stuff is all great. But this Sunday, my pastor said something that hit me hard. Just as we should not look down on those older than us because they are old, and they should not look down on us because we are young — neither should we look down on our own youth.

God can still use us, and not just to help kids or other teenagers — though we are definitely positioned in powerful ways to bless, serve, and encourage them. But God can still use us to serve, encourage, and help those of all ages.

Obviously, this isn’t always the case. We don’t want to adopt an attitude of superiority towards those older than us, or neglect our service to those younger than us. Plus, sometimes there are things that are just not appropriate for us to be involved in. Adults need other adults to advise them in certain areas.

But don’t look down on yourself because of the small fact that you are young. You just might miss out on some powerful opportunities God has for you to serve him and his people. As young people, we have an important God-given role in both our local churches and the body of Christ as a whole. Will we embrace it? Consider 1 Timothy 4:12. It says we should let no one despise” our youth. You know who that “no one” includes? Us. How can you set the believers an example? What gifts and wisdom and opportunities has God given you? And most of all — will you use them?

But don’t look down on yourself because of the small fact that you are young. Share on X

“Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” (1 Timothy 4:12)

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About the author

Sara Willoughby

is the 20-year-old author of He's Making Diamonds: A Teen's Thoughts on Faith Through Chronic Illness. She loves to read, write, and have adventures, be it off to Narnia one more time, wading through mud chasing the family dog, or playing a new board game with her two younger siblings. Sara is also a Lymie, TCK, and Bright Lights leader. You can find her at

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rebelling against low expectations

The Rebelution is a teenage rebellion against low expectations—a worldwide campaign to reject apathy, embrace responsibility, and do hard things. Learn More →