As a young man, (I’m 22, living at home, but in my senior year at University) I am in a dilemma. Everywhere – at home, in school, on the job, or on the street – someone else is telling me how to live my life. At the same time I am required to fulfill a lot of responsibility. I don’t seem to have any authority at all. Tell me please, how do I fit this into God’s plan for maturity in my life? How do I learn to exercise authority without having the experience of being IN authority?

As I continue to share with you regarding manliness, please think of it also as that state of MATURITY that has taken you out of the condition of childhood or boyishness into the grown-up man of God that you are meant to be. Paul spoke on many occasions to Timothy, calling him “my SON“. However, he later addressed him as “brother”. At one point he told Timothy, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because of your youth…“, and shortly afterwards he told this young man, “Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father.

Fulfilling responsibility even while having the authority requires great wisdom and sensitivity. Just look at the long list of conditions Paul outlined to the church in Corinth! The balance is amazing! (See second Corinthians 6:4-10): “as servants of God (leaders??), we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance, but in troubles, hardships, and distress: … in beatings, imprisonments and riots, in hard work, sleepless nights, and hunger: yet, also in purity, understanding, patience, and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love! in truthful speech and in the POWER OF GOD!” (emphasis mine)

These are the conditions and circumstances which produce great, authoritative leadership. I’m sure, from this list, [that] you are beginning to see the awesomeness of responsibility. It’s the Lord’s discipline. David prayed to the Lord, “Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear Your Name” (Psalm 86:11b). He also said, “Blessed is the man you discipline, O Lord” (Psalm 94:12).

But it takes more than pain and distress to make a man responsible. Jesus told the twelve disciples, “Be as shrewd as snakes and as harmless as doves.” Ever tried to be dove-like and snake-like at the same time? It’s quite a balancing act, isn’t it? But He also said to them, “Whoever wants to be great (leader??) among you must be your servant.”

Second: It is required of us that we BE EXAMPLES, and not just to our children but also to the people of God who make up the church. Responsibility requires that we say what Paul said: “Be as I am.”  Now that’s tough. We cannot just stand up in the classroom and say, “This is the way.” We have to get out into the daily grind and BE [leaders], saying, “Follow me“.

Paul sent to Timothy, “Son, don’t think your youthfulness gives you any excuse for failure. Set an example for the believers – in your speech, in your life, in love, in your faith, in your purity. Train yourself to be Godly” (1 Tim. 4:7,12).

And to Titus, another young apostle he was training, he said much the same thing….”encourage the young men to be SELF-CONTROLLED. In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness, and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned….”

The exercise of authority is a delicate operation. It requires a man to take a position somewhat set apart from others, yet it demands the most intimate of relationships – the actual integration of one life into another for its total fulfillment.  It’s TWO become ONE! It’s FATHER and SON! It is IDEALISM become REALITY! It is FAITH become FACT!

From Jay Fesperman’s “Letters of Exhortation”, Volume 5, No. 1, February 1985.