The church where I serve as a pastor has a tradition of having the youth group lead worship on a Sunday in May. It is my favorite service of the year. To see teenagers handle the responsibilities of prayers, sermon topics, testimonies, music solos, and the Children’s Sermon is a wonderful thing. They are enthusiastic, sincere, funny, and more engaged on this Sunday than any other. They also come through it with a deeper appreciation of the worship staff’s weekly efforts.
There is always a moment when their youthful wisdom catches me off guard. I love to watch the reaction of the congregation as the “aha” moment spreads through the worshippers. It is a reminder to all of us that the Holy Spirit moves through receptive believers regardless of age.
Indeed, if you want to learn something new, listen to the little ones during the children’s time. One time I asked the kids what heaven is like and a very sincere three-year-old responded that heaven was a place where you don’t have to worry about going tee-tee in your pants. Preach it, son! Heaven absolutely is a place where you don’t have to worry about anything.
A young man named Elihu made the same argument to Job’s older yet ineffective friends. As they all sat around Job offering useless bits of commentary and advice, this young man respectfully bit his tongue and bided his time until he could no longer stand it and had to speak up. He rightfully said in verse 8 that it is “God’s Spirit in a person, the breath of the Almighty One, that makes wise human insight possible.” The Spirit of God is ageless and choses to speak when and through whom it chooses, and we are reminded not to judge or put boundaries around the wisdom that might come from an unexpected source. Being open and receptive to the Spirit’s leading is part of being a follower of Jesus.
Job 32:6-10 (The Message)
6-10 This is what Elihu, son of Barakel the Buzite, said:
“I’m a young man,
and you are all old and experienced.
That’s why I kept quiet
and held back from joining the discussion.
I kept thinking, ‘Experience will tell.
The longer you live, the wiser you become.’
But I see I was wrong—it’s God’s Spirit in a person,
the breath of the Almighty One, that makes wise human insight possible.
The experts have no corner on wisdom;
getting old doesn’t guarantee good sense.
So I’ve decided to speak up. Listen well!
I’m going to tell you exactly what I think.
This is a challenge to all of us to slow down and incline an ear toward the younger people around us. Children especially will speak the truth without filters and their raw insights can help us to see God’s presence in unusual places. As adults, we are often too busy and focused on our issues to appreciate what is going on in a child’s mind, and we may miss the beauty and young wisdom that God offers through their eyes.
Ponder this as you go about your day today. Is there a young person in your life who deserves more of your attention? Is the Almighty’s breath working in an unexpected way through someone or something? Our ageless Holy Spirit seeks to connect with us in any way it chooses. We would do well to listen with openness and acceptance.
Train Them Up in the Way They Should Go by Michelle Robertson