And we’re diving right in!
Welcome back to the Teen Faith Study Group! Today we have our very first Teen Faith Question. I’m excited to answer it.
A reader writes in to say: “Hi, JC! Who was one Bible figure who was a teen like us when he/she began their ministry and what can we learn from him or her?”
Thank you for submitting this question! It’s a good one.
There are plenty of examples of Biblical teens in ministry, but the question asks for one specific example, and I think it will be most beneficial for us to focus on studying just one at a time!
So here’s the example I thought of for you: a prophet we have likely all heard of. And if you haven’t, I hope you’ll enjoy this introduction to his life! And our teen prophet is…
Daniel (also named Belteshazzar).
Some of us might know Daniel as simply the prophet who received multiple miraculous visions of the end times and the future of commandments such as keeping the Sabbath. But it’s easy sometimes to forget that Daniel was no more than a teenager when he first began serving in King Nebuchadnezzar’s court and even receiving some of his first visions.
When the story begins, Daniel is described as a “youth” or “young man,” words which in the Bible are commonly interpreted as someone ranging from childhood to teen years. Certainly Daniel was very young, for he was taken to Babylon to be educated in the king’s palace. The king would not have wanted any but the most youthful, so that they could easily learn the ways of the Chaldeans.
Then the king commanded Ashpenaz, his chief eunuch, to bring some of the people of Israel, both of the royal family and of the nobility, youths without blemish, of good appearance and skillful in all wisdom, endowed with knowledge, understanding learning, and competent to stand in the king’s palace, and to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans. The king assigned them a daily portion of the food that the king ate, and of the wine that he drank. They were to be educated for three years, and at the end of that time they were to stand before the king. Among these were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah of the tribe of Judah. And the chief of the eunuchs gave them names: Daniel he called Belteshazzar, Hananiah he called Shadrach, Mishael he called Meshach, and Azariah he called Abednego.– Daniel 1:3-7
I feel that some people might suppose Daniel was just in the palace obediently learning, and not particularly making a huge difference there for faith. No. As soon as the teenager Daniel came to the palace he began making a change for good.
Remember that in verse 5 we are told Nebuchadnezzar assigned the youths to eat his food and drink his wine. However, there was one youth who was unwilling.
“But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king’s food, or with the wine that he drank. Therefore he asked the chief of the eunuchs to allow him not to defile himself.
And God gave Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the chief of the eunuchs, and the chief of the eunuchs said to Daniel, “I fear my lord the king, who assigned your food and your drink; for why should he see that you were in worse condition than the youths who are of your own age? So you would endanger my head with the king.”
Then Daniel said to the steward whom the chief of the eunuchs had assigned over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, “Test your servants for ten days; let us be given vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then let our appearance and the appearance of the youths who eat the king’s food be observed by you, and deal with your servants according to what you see.”
So he listened to them in this matter, and tested them for ten days. At the end of ten days it was seen that they were better in appearance and fatter in flesh than all the youths who ate the king’s food. So the steward took away their food and the wine they were to drink, and gave them vegetables.
As for these four youths, God gave them learning and skill in all literature and wisdom, and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams. At the end of the time, when the king had commanded that they should be brought in, the chief of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar. And the king spoke with them, and among all of them none was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. Therefore they stood before the king. And in every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters that were in all his kingdom.”
So how is this called ministry?
It just seems like a matter of food, right? What did Daniel accomplish?
Daniel witnessed for God through his actions.
Actions speak louder than words, right? And it’s not what you say, it’s your lifestyle and your choices that will make others see you are a child of God.
The chief of the eunuchs admired Daniel’s resolve.
The first person Daniel affected was the chief of the eunuchs, who just happened to be a trusted noble in the eyes of the king himself. This is the first step Daniel took toward witnessing to not only the other youths and teachers of the court, but to the king himself. Notice also that the Bible clearly states it was God who allowed this to happen because of Daniel’s reverence for the laws of health and cleanliness.
Daniel turned all the youths and teachers to God’s laws of health and cleanliness.
After the ten days the chief had given, Daniel and his friends were much more healthy in appearance than the other youths who had eaten the rich food. So the chief decided that all the students should eat the healthful foods instead of the rich foods. In this way Daniel pointed the other students and teachers to God, who commands that we care for our bodies because he lovingly gave them to us.
Because of Daniel, others were lavishly blessed and gifted.
Of course, everyone in the court was blessed because they were given healthful foods, thus making them much less susceptible to disease and much more susceptible to a long, full life. But notice specifically what happened to Daniel’s three friends, whom Daniel recruited to help him in his mission.
The Bible states that they were given “learning and skill in all literature and wisdom” (Daniel 1:17). This was because they joined Daniel in standing up for what was right. But if Daniel had not recruited them, would this have happened? Most likely not.
As a result of his faith and witnessing, God appointed Daniel to the sacred mission by which he affected billions, including us today: the end times prophet.
God lavished Daniel with blessings because of the good work he had done in the court.
“Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much.”– Matthew 25:21
Because Daniel wanted to be faithful to God in every way, even the smallest and seemingly most insignificant of ways, he was appointed to a glorious mission. He had special understanding in all visions and dreams. And one day soon, he would become the great prophet who was given miraculous dreams and visions of the future, the end times, and the Second Advent of Christ, as well as prophesies and warnings about such commandments as the seventh-day Sabbath. Because of Daniel’s care to follow the commandments about things such as health, he was given authority to prophesy about the most sacred commandments like the Sabbath.
Daniel was even taught by the Angel Gabriel himself (Daniel 9:21).
What can we learn from Daniel?
The second part of the question asks what we can learn from our teen in ministry. So here is a summary of points:
Witness through our actions, not our words.
If we want to witness, we need to witness by actually living for Christ. People will see by the way we live that we love God. There are countless ways we can witness through action, but here are a few suggestions. Feel welcome to share more in the comments!
- Instead of laughing with friends over an inappropriate quote, tweet, video, etc. we can ask them not to talk of things that don’t honor God.
- Stand up for someone in your school, home, or community who is bullied or treated unfairly. Be a friend.
- Refrain from swearing or gossiping about others, and if you hear profanity or gossip, politely ask for it to stop. If it doesn’t, walk away.
- Read books, watch movies, and listen to music that honors God. Listen to your conscience.
Don’t be afraid to respectfully confront authority.
Our duty, of course, is to honor those in places of authority. In Daniel’s case, it was the chief of the eunuchs. In our case, it might be a parent, teacher, principal, pastor, etc. If you see something in your home, school, church, or community that is harmful rather than beneficial, do speak up. As long as you are respectful as Daniel was, God will work in your favor. He will allow the authority figure to listen to you, take your points into account, and respect you in return.
Take care of your body and help others do the same.
The Bible tells us:
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.– 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Here are some ideas for how we can be like Daniel and take care of our bodies. Again, you are absolutely welcome to share more in the comments!
- Cut down on junk food and desserts. They’re awesome once in a while, of course (I even admit in my bio that I love sweets, LOL)! Instead of having something sweet every day, treat yourself to a small dessert once a week, or reward yourself with a sweet when you accomplish something (such as writing 1k words that day!)
- Don’t skip meals. As teens, our bodies are growing and developing, and we need to nourish them. I know many of you might not be hungry for breakfast, or you simply may not like certain meals, or you’re too busy to stop and eat. I totally understand – these are all things I’ve said myself at times! – but it is very harmful to skip meals. That can lead to stopping by a drive-thru or the kitchen for an unhealthful snack.
- Avoid caffeine. Coffee and soda aren’t the best drink choices. Drink plenty of water and drink a cup of milk per day (if you’re lactose intolerant, choose the dairy that’s right for you). If you really like coffee or tea, choose the decaf kind. I would advise avoiding soda as often as you can.
Be faithful with the jobs God has entrusted you with now, and later you will be able to handle more.
Sometimes it’s easy to think God hasn’t entrusted us with a lot, and we’d like to do more for him. But we can learn from Daniel that every mission is impactful and important! Here are some little ways you can make a difference. Feel free to share more.
- Your writing! Always write poems, novels, short stories, etc. that point to Christ.
- Get involved with ministerial opportunities in your church, school, or community. Volunteer to clean a park, make cards for the sick or elderly, join a praise team if you enjoy singing or playing an instrument, go on a mission trip, run for class office. Really, the possibilities are endless!
- Simply be a kind and positive presence wherever you are. Instead of complaining to friends, encourage them. Say hello to someone you usually pass by. Write a note to someone who has inspired you. Again, the possibilities are endless!
Hope you guys enjoyed this post!
I hope you all enjoyed our first Teen Faith Question!
Remember that if you’d like to ask a question of your own, you can head right over HERE to fill out the form and do so.
You know the drill – eat, pray, write, repeat!