We were dating. Trying to find out everything we could about each other. Asking questions and probing for information.
What sports did you play? Did you play any instruments? What is your favorite food?
What is your favorite flower?
“Daisy,” I answered. “I love daisies.”
To which Jeremy replied, “Daisies? Like just plain, normal, yellow and white daisies?”
“Yep. Daisies. and roses. I do love a beautiful rose.” I smiled, knowing I’d just named the two opposite ends of the flower spectrum.
I think then and there, Jeremy should have recognized a great complexity in this new girlfriend of his. Maybe he did. Maybe he saw her desire for simple and grand, loving both at the same time. Her need for plain things while occasionally choosing something exquisite. A talkative yet quite introverted person who was just discovering who she was and what she stood for and what God was doing in her heart. A process he would live out with her for many years to come.
That she was a daisy in process of becoming. something.
I remember walking into work one day while we were in college and finding on my desk a huge vase full of daisies… and just one red rose.
Those beautiful, normal, everyday daisies making my desk happy and joyful and welcoming. And that one rose speaking to me about love and about a boyfriend who listened, who heard me. Even if my favorite flowers consisted of a weed and an expense.
I did some research on whether my favorite flower, the daisy, is actually a flower or maybe just a weed.
What I found was quite simple… the answer lies in whether or not the daisy is wanted where it happens to be growing. The daisy has the qualifications to be a flower. But when it grows where it isn’t supposed to be or where it isn’t wanted, it becomes a weed.
It can also be said that, wanted or not, the daisy has some weedy tendencies. A daisy has the ability to over-grow a yard, a field, or a flower bed very quickly. Depending on personal preference, this could be a good thing… or a huge problem.
For me, I think their happy outlook quite over powers any such weedy tendency.
But not everyone feels that way. Ask a serious gardener and they probably will not agree. It is just a daisy after all, right? Not some prize-winning, amazingly beautiful rose.
So, why the chat about daisies?
Because it is worth chatting about. And not just because I love daisies.
For me, that vase full of sunny, happy daisies was the language of love.
To another girl it could have been an insult of great proportions to walk in and have a vase of weeds on her desk with only one precious rose in the bunch.
Jeremy didn’t look down on my decision to love a daisy. He championed it and embraced the weird complexity of my flower choices.
I’m getting somewhere I promise…
Let’s jump into 1 Timothy 4:12, a verse you know. You have read it, taught it and quoted it to someone.
“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young…”
That isn’t the whole verse, but it is the part that we quote to kids in Sunday School, youth in youth group and college kids trying to make their way in a big world.
It is a verse we quote to anyone young and struggling and needing a dose of encouragement. It is not a verse that we often apply to ourselves after the age of 25.
But in my Bible reading the other day, I read this verse and saw something different. In fact, the Holy Spirit said, “Read it again.”
So I did. and again. and again.
Slowly, the word young, which seems to be the word we all focus on, faded and I saw new words popping up.
Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are…
new to the field
weak in language
writer of a journey
new to everything
an introvert doing an extrovert job
learning something every day
woman with pastoral credentials
young mom of teens
first timer overseas
not a pastor’s wife anymore
lots of experience
…on and on I could go.
All of those things are true. Areas where a new worker on the field could feel a little daisy-ish.
A happy addition but the jury is still out on whether or not they are a flower or a weed. Unsure if their skills are helpful. Unsure if their place matters. Not sure how they fit. Needing to rein in thoughts, ideas and opinions until they learn more, do more, live more and experience more on the field.
The realities of being the newbie on the field are staggering. And I’ll take a wild guess here and imagine that even those who’ve been on the field for a long time could wonder about these things too.
Wondering how your latest language mishap will make you look before the national church. Knowing that your guard thinks you are a little bit crazy. Thinking that the guys at the grocery store wonder if you’ll ever speak their language. Missing an opportunity for conversation because you don’t have the vocabulary. Feeling successful for just getting the electric bill paid or getting the correct insurance paper for your car.
Trusting that God can use a daisy even if it has weedy tendencies.
When I read that verse and allowed myself to drop in words that applied to me, I could hear the Holy Spirit whispering to my heart, “Don’t let anyone look down upon you because…”
As he spoke my list back to me, I heard the second part of the verse.
“…but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.“
THIS is your job. THIS matters more…
Set an example for the national church. other workers. our guard. the guys at the grocery store.
Set an example in speech… even with limited words.
In love… you will be known by your love.
“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:35
In how we live, through our faith and by keeping our hearts pure.
Then, Paul gives Timothy a few other instructions. 1 Timothy 4:13 says, “Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching.”
Devote ourselves to sharing the word. We have a job to do regardless of our newness, our lack, our daisy-ness.
Verse 14 goes on to say, “Do not neglect your gift…” My gifts, my experiences, my abilities still matter here… whether I see it yet or not. I shouldn’t neglect the talents and gifts that God has given me.
This next phrase really got me that day. 1 Timothy 4:15 says, “Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress.”
New workers on the field… we are in a process. We are going through a huge process. We must be diligent and devote ourselves. We must give ourselves wholly to this new culture, this new language, this new place, these new people. We must work hard in these areas of life so that everyone – family, friends, coworkers, supporters, neighbors – can see our progress.
The progress is a testimony.
If you stop because someone is looking down upon you, you’ll never see progress.
If you give up because someone perceives a weedy tendency, you’ll never grow.
If you focus on all the weaknesses, you’ll never see God turn them to strengths.
If you fail to move past the “young” part, you’ll fail to set an example in the things that really matter.
I want to challenge you to dig out your Bible, read this passage of scripture and put in a few words you’ve been feeling “looked down” in lately.
What is something you could put in that blank instead of “young”? What is something God is speaking to you through the verses following that command? Do you feel looked down upon or a little daisy-ish? What is an area you see progress and growth?