Timothy, who rose to the top of the second generation of leaders after Jesus, was one of the key characters of the New Testament. His life taught us great spiritual lessons.
As a young minister, I would ask pastors for any advice they would give me on ministry. One pastor told me to study 1st and 2nd Timothy and Titus. He said these were written by Paul and directed to young ministers. I read those books, and it sparked an interest in these New Testament men. Many times, young ministers are tempted to think they have a special, new insight that the experienced minister has missed. The enemy tempts talent and charisma with pride and arrogance. It is here we find a subtle trap. Young ministers can see themselves as wise and indispensable when they should be humble and make themselves indispensable through servanthood. The wise, young man looks for mentors who have traveled the road long before him. This was the attitude of Timothy.
We know little about Timothy’s biological father other than he was of Greek descent. His mother and grandmother had been strong in the Jewish faith, and it seems they came to Christ either during Paul and Baranbas’ first missionary journey or were won to Christ by the church in Lystra between Paul's visits, despite Paul having a rocky relationship with the people of Lystra.
When Paul first visited Lystra, God used him to heal a man who had been crippled from birth. When this happened, the people thought Paul and Barnabus were gods, but Paul and Barnabas knew where their power came from because they were servants of Jesus. They cried out to the city claiming they were men just like them. Instead of the city turning to the message of the gospel, they became deceived. A group of Jewish leaders from other cities arrived and further stirred up trouble. Paul was stoned and left for dead, thus his rocky relationship with Lystra. You can read the full story in Acts 14:8-24.
On his second missionary journey, Paul went back to Lystra with Silas, and there he met Timothy. Timothy was a young convert who lived his life honorably before the new church. Paul saw the gifts and calling of God on Timothy and invited Timothy to travel with him. In the days ahead, Paul became a mentor and spiritual father to Timothy. Timothy traveled with Paul, pastored churches, set up leadership, and established order in new churches. Timothy’s role in the early Church was pivotal to the health and establishment of the Church.
By the time Paul wrote 2nd Timothy, he knew his time on earth was about done. He had been arrested by Nero and knew he would soon be beheaded. In 2nd Timothy, he prepares Timothy as a leader and establishes the foundation for all those who would follow. The scriptures below are powerful for the believers’ faith and conduct, especially the ones gifted to lead.
- 2 Timothy 1:8-9
- 2 Timothy 2:1-4
- 2 Timothy 2:15
- 2 Timothy 3:12 and 16-17
- 2 Timothy 4:1-3
Paul brought this book to a close by reminding Timothy the great reward is to come in the next life.
Paul knew the baton of faith needed to be passed to a new generation of leaders. He also knew that each generation is in danger of wandering from the central purpose of leadership. His concern for Timothy and Titus provided direction for generations to come.
We are fortunate for Paul’s written instruction to Timothy and Titus as it speaks into the role of the pastor and the function of the Church. This is why I believe all young people or new believers who sense a call on their life should study 1st and 2nd Timothy and Titus.
Thoughts to contemplate:
- What kind of a reputation have you built with your local church?
- Who are the mentors in your life that you allow space to tell you anything?
- How do you do with assignments? Are you even available and can you be counted on?
- Is your focus on the rewards of men and today or do you labor faithfully for the rewards of heaven?