God Only Uses Adults… Not! | John Wimber

By John Wimber

Would God trust a teenager with ministry? It seems wild. But the answer is yes! Your mom and dad might think twice about loaning you the car but God has always treated youth as significant people EVEN LEADERS who can change the world. And he wants to use you.

How do I know that?

The Bible is full of examples of God calling teenagers to serve and sacrifice for him. Those who obeyed God changed the course of history.

Jeremiah: never too young

Jeremiah was probably around 17 when the Lord called him. You can read about it in the book of Jeremiah in the first chapter.

“The word of the LORD came to me, saying, Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”

Jerry was known by God and set apart for God before being formed in the womb. The Bible teaches that your history didn’t start with your birth. The circumstances surrounding your birth, and even childhood may be painful, but don’t lose sight of the fact that God knows you-and loves you. Your life has meaning and purpose, no matter how young you are.

“Ah, Sovereign LORD,” I said, “l do not know how to speak; I am only a child.” Jeremiah’s response was “I’m only a kid. I can’t even vote! I have no abilities!”

But the Lord assured Jeremiah that his age and lack of maturity didn’t matter.

“Do not say, ‘I am only a child.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the LORD. Then the LORD reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “Now, I have put my words in your mouth. See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.”(Jeremiah 1:49)

God also has a plan for your life. And it’s more awesome than you can imagine. Some say the job market for college graduates is tougher now than it’s been since World War 11. But when God is your boss, you have incredible job security. God wants to put his words in your mouth. You’re never too young to heed his call.

Daniel: grace under peer pressure

Around 586 BC most of the Jews in Judah were exiled to Babylon, under the rule of Nebuchadnezzar. Four bright young Jewish boys were chosen to attend the “University of Babylon.” Daniel and three of his fellow Jews were among them. The goal was to saturate them for three years with the language and literature of the Babylonians. They were to be molded into model Babylonian citizens so they would serve the king. His story appears in the Old Testament book of Daniel.

Imagine being uprooted from your home, and the most powerful man on earth has handpicked you to join the ranks of the Babylonian enchanters and magicians. The king dictated everything: what you would wear, what you would read, the music you would listen to, and what you would be called. He even dictated what you would eat and drink. “The king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the king’s table.”

Daniel and his friends were young, and far from home, but they were not going to violate their religious heritage and eat food that was impure and forbidden. He took a big risk and asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way. God had already softened the official’s heart toward Daniel, but he was still reluctant.

“I am afraid of my lord the king, who has assigned your food and drink. Why should he see you looking worse than the other young men your age? The king would then have my head because of you.” Daniel then said… “Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see.”

When God calls you to an extraordinary task, he provides extraordinary resources. No teenager ever had any more pressure than Daniel and his friends had. It would’ve been so easy to give in. No one would’ve cared or blamed them. But Daniel knew that God cared.

He chose to rely on God’s power to make a stand for purity and holiness. God blessed his obedience. After ten days Daniel and his friends looked healthier and better nourished than any of the guys who ate the royal food.

Nebuchadnezzar thought he was going to use these Jewish boys for his purposes. But God was going to use them for his purposes.

The Bible says that God gave these young men knowledge and understanding. God was overseeing their education. He also gifted Daniel with an incredible ability to understand all kinds of visions and dreams.

“At the end of the time set by the king…he found none equal to Daniel, In every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king questioned them, he found [Daniel] ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom.”

God’s power can help you resist any temptation the world or the devil throws your way. Daniel’s life proves you can do more than survive… you can thrive!

Mary: teenage servant of God

Mary’s life illustrates how an ordinary teenager can do extraordinary things-if she will obey God’s word.

Mary was probably about 13, living in a hick town called Nazareth when Gabriel the archangel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” Understandably, Mary was fearful and anxious.

But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.” “How will this be,’, Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God….For nothing is impossible with God.” (LUKE 1:2636)

She was young, female, poor-yet God had chosen her! Notice how obedient and full of faith her attitude was: “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said….” She had just accepted the most incredible invitation and explanation ever given to a human being in the history of the world. Evidently, God had chosen the right girl!

Samuel: hearing from God

The Old Testament prophet Samuel illustrates that you’re never too young to hear God’s voice. The historian Josephus estimates Samuel was 12 when God spoke to him. It was at night, and Samuel was trying to get to sleep. God spoke to him three times before Samuel finally recognized God’s voice. But once he caught on, his response was perfect:

So Samuel went and lay down in his place. The LORD came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening….” The LORD was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of his words fall to the ground….he revealed himself to Samuel through his word.

Samuel may have been young, but he was a fast learner. He demonstrated the prime qualification for hearing God’s voice: a willingness and eagerness to listen. The Holy Spirit will illuminate the truth of Scripture for you, and speak to your heart-but you must be willing to spend the time listening, and learning to recognize God’s voice.

David: a teenage ruler

David’s life shows us that God is more concerned about a teenager’s heart and character than about his or her height and talents. Check out his story in the book of 1 Samuel, chapter 16. By this time Samuel was old, and God gave him a chore: anoint a future king. God sent him to Bethlehem and told him that one of the sons of a man named Jesse had been chosen. The Lord would make it clear which one was to be anointed. When Samuel arrived at Bethlehem, he summoned Jesse and his sons.

When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, “Surely the LORD’s anointed stands here before the LORD.” But the LORD said to Samuel. “Do not consider his appearance or his height…The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart….”

Samuel made the same assumption you may be making. God only uses superstars: the guys with the looks and the bucks, or the girls with all the talent and popularity. Appearances have become highly important in our society, but to God they are secondary.

So [Samuel] asked Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?” “There is still the youngest,” Jesse answered, “but he is tending the sheep.” Samuel said, “Send for him; we will not sit down until he arrives.” So he sent and had him brought in.

Now David had a lot going for him, but he wouldn’t have been voted “Most Likely To Become King” at Bethlehem High. Even his dad forgot to call him in from tending the sheep.

Then the LORD said, “Rise and anoint him; he is the one.” So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the LORD came upon David in power.

Where you are at right now may not seem all that important. The routine of school or the boredom of a job can trick you into thinking that real life is happening somewhere else. Wrong. Real life is living a relationship with Christ. Do you know him? Knowing Christ in a personal way can transform any circumstance into an opportunity to experience his power in our lives.

David could’ve resigned himself to the menial task of watching sheep. He could’ve felt sorry for himself. But no, he took his job seriously. He used the job as an opportunity to learn how to fight, and how to shepherd-skills that would prove essential later on in his career. David also used his solitude as an opportunity to get closer to God. He probably composed many songs of worship while out in the fields. The only audience he had was his sheep…and the Lord.

God not only saw where David was; God saw his heart. So be faithful where you’re at. When God calls, he looks at the resume of the heart.

Bottom line

When the Vineyard Christian Fellowship of Anaheim began 15 years ago, the average age of those attending was 19. The church not only had a youth group, it was a youth group! God captured and called many of them to ministries that now have extended around the world. At this writing I would guess they and others that have come after them have been in nearly a hundred nations. Having watched those kids grow up in faith, I can declare God calls and uses teenagers to change the world.

I would ask you, are you ready?

Source: Equipping The Saints, Vol. 6, No. 3/Summer 1992