Monday, May 7, 2018
Philippians 2:22 But you know that Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel.
1 Corinthians 4:17 For this reason I am sending to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church.
One of the greatest joys in my life is to be able to spend time with my children and grandchildren. Whenever I have some time off from the busyness of ministry and I’m able to go do something I enjoy doing, my first option is to call one or both of my sons and see if they are free to join me. As much as I love to hunt, fish, and golf, I get the most pleasure when I can do those things with my kids. It is getting harder because their families are growing and they have the same longings to be with their children. I’m thrilled that they are that committed to their families, but it’s hard that I don’t get to spend as much time with them as I would like to. But the grandkids seem to always be available for fishing or hunting, so that helps. Now if just one of them would learn to golf.
In Paul’s day, sons usually became apprentices in their father’s business, and they spent every day together pursuing a common interest and skill. The father was honored to pass on his heritage and legacy to the son and watch him become successful. I have had that privilege with my sons as we have worked together so they could learn the skills needed to be well-rounded husbands and fathers. The relational bonding that takes place during all those times is far more significant than any of the skills that are learned. The love and friendship that are shared while in the boat fishing are far more significant than the number or size of fish caught (which is a good thing because I’m not that good of a fisherman).
That’s how Paul felt about Timothy. Paul had spiritually adopted Timothy as his son. Timothy had come along side of Paul and become his apprentice in the ministry. Timothy served with him in the work of the gospel just as a son serves with his father in their family business. This has important lessons for us.
First, Timothy was commended for being a son. A healthy father-son relationship involves respect, honor, and submission on the part of the son and confidence, patience, and encouragement on the part of the father. When we find ourselves in the humble position of an apprentice, be like Timothy who treated his mentor with respect, honor, and submission. When we find ourselves in the privileged position of a mentor, be like Paul who trained his apprentice with confidence, patience, and encouragement. The goal of an apprentice is to learn all the skills necessary to carry on the work after the mentor is gone, and the goal of the mentor is to train the apprentice to be more successful than themselves.
Second, Timothy was commended for being a servant. Servants are obedient to their masters. Our first thought is that Timothy was obedient to Paul, but Paul was not his master. Paul says that Timothy served with him, so that means Paul was a servant also. Jesus Christ was their Master, and they both obeyed Him. No matter how we advance to be leaders of people, remember that we are still servants of Jesus.
Third, Timothy was commended for being similar. Timothy had excelled at his training to the point that Paul could send him to the churches to be the model of Paul’s teachings. Paul said, “He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church.” As much as it hurt Paul to be separated from Timothy, his confidence in Timothy’s faith and character allowed him to send him to complete the work that had been started; not because he was similar to Paul, but because both Paul and Timothy were similar to Christ.
When I call my sons and they are not able to join me for a round of golf because of their obligations to their families, I am disappointed for myself but thrilled for their wives and children, because I am confident of their faith and their character. I know they will be representing Jesus Christ to their families because I trained them to do it. They may not do it perfectly yet, but neither do I. But I am proud of my sons and my daughter. As a mentor, this is the culmination of ministry and the fulfillment of joy. As an apprentice, this is your goal.
So, whether you are a mentor or an apprentice, be faithful and excel at what you do, knowing that you do it as a servant of Jesus Christ.