We first meet Timothy in Acts 16:1-3. Remember? Paul shared in Acts 16 that he found a young disciple named Timothy, the son of a Jewish Christian mother and a Greek father. His story and Paul’s story look quite similar. In fact, Paul believes in Timothy’s ability to reach both Jews and Gentiles that he encourages Timothy to be circumcised. Now that’s commitment! Listen to Paul’s recommendation of Timothy in Philippians 2:20 (NLT) 20 I have no one else like Timothy, who genuinely cares about your welfare.
Paul has written many letters during his ministry and they each can be categorized into two different categories: Church Epistles and Pastoral Epistles. 1 and 2 Timothy is the start of Paul’s Pastoral Epistles and are personal letters he wrote to Timothy, a young pastor in a new ministry. As we will read, these letters are intended to both encourage and instruct.
1 Timothy 1:3, 18-19 (NLT) 3 When I left for Macedonia, I urged you to stay there in Ephesus and stop those whose teaching is contrary to the truth. 4 Don’t let them waste their time in endless discussion of myths and spiritual pedigrees.
18 Timothy, my son, here are my instructions for you, based on the prophetic words spoken about you earlier. May they help you fight well in the Lord’s battles. 19 Cling to your faith in Christ, and keep your conscience clear.
Who Is Your Timothy?
These aren’t just idol words from Paul. These are words that are heart felt and personal to a person he even referred to as ” his true son in faith (v.2).” These are words from a mentor to a student; from a spiritual father to a spiritual son.
My wife and I had the opportunity to serve together for eight years in full-time ministry. We were at a point in our leadership that while my wife oversaw birth through 6th grade, I was fortunate to oversee 7th through 12th. So between the two of us, we were responsible for helping shape spiritual maturity from birth to graduation! No pressure! We found that the number one way to be effective in ministry was consistency. In a world were the average youth pastor is at a church for sixteen months…yes, you read that correctly, sixteen months, consistency is something that is seriously lacking in our churches. One of the other keys to effectiveness was mentoring.
Although we mentored LOTS of kids and teenagers, and I could tell you story after story, I want to share with you one. Joe was the kinda quiet, kinda squirrelly kid in the children’s department who was friends with everyone. This trait didn’t leave him later in life as Joe was the chameleon personality you relished in your youth ministry. Not only was Joe a great kid, but Joe had parents that afforded him time to help out at the church. He wasn’t one of those kids that needed to be at the church to stay out of trouble, he was one of those kids that was bound and determined to make a difference in the world.
My wife and I had the privilege of mentoring Joe, in fact, he’s now serving full time in a great church as the head of their media department. This is not a surprise considering he ran the sound for our worship band even in high school. The coolest thing for us was watching Joe grow and mature to the incredible young man he is today. We even have the opportunity next week to watch him get married!
Let me ask you… who is your Joe? Who is a person or persons in your life that you are pouring into and encouraging? Many people would say, “well, you’re a pastor.” You know what I say to that? Malarky! The call to mentor, or dare I say disciple, is a call to each and every believer. These mentoring, disciple-making, modeling relationships are not just from Pastor to people. These relationships are from pastor to people, and people to people, and even people to pastors, or at least they should be. This is exactly the relationship we find in Paul and Timothy.