SHEPHERD OF EAGER YOUTH
Clement of Alexandria, c. 170–c. 220
Translated by Henry Martyn Dexter, 1821–1890
Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, “I find no pleasure in them!” (Ecclesiastes 12:1)
Someone cried, “Where must the seed be sown to bring the most fruit when it is grown?”
The Master heard as He said and smiled, “Go plant it for Me in the heart of a child.”
It is vitally important that our children be led to a personal relationship with Christ and instructed in His Word when they are young. What truth there is in these familiar statements: “To save a child is to save a life,” or “Give me a child till he/she is seven and I care not who gets him after that.” D. L. Moody, the noted evangelist, once said: “If I could relive my life, I would devote my entire ministry to reaching children for God.”
Christian nurturing of our children requires consistent discipline. Webster defines discipline as “training which corrects, strengthens, and perfects.” Discipline goes far beyond merely being punitive. Discipline and training have done their job only when they result in a changed character and the desire to live with self-control. Although there may be times when our youth may rebel and react against their early Christian training, they can never get completely away from it (Proverbs 22:6).
“Shepherd of Eager Youth” is the oldest Christian hymn of which the authorship is known. Clement of Alexandria wrote this text in the Greek language sometime between a.d. 202 and the time of his death in a.d. 220. The title in the original Greek could literally be translated “Tamer of Steeds Unbridled.” It was evidently used as a hymn of Christian instruction for new young converts from heathenism.
Shepherd of eager youth, guiding in love and truth thru devious ways—Christ, our triumphant King, we come Thy name to sing; hither Thy children bring tributes of praise.
Thou art our Holy Lord, the all-subduing Word, healer of strife; Thou didst Thyself abase that from sin’s deep disgrace Thou mightest save our race and give us life.
Ever be near our side, our shepherd and our guide, our staff and song; Jesus, Thou Christ of God, by Thy enduring word lead us where Thou hast trod, make our faith strong.
For Today: Deuteronomy 32:46; 1 Timothy 4:12; 1 Peter 2:25
Reflect on this truth: The prized possession of any church is its youth. Seek to speak a word of encouragement to some young person.