“I’m called to be in front of people singing solos”
When I was a worship pastor, I’d cringe when someone told me this. Nine times out of ten they didn’t have enough vocal ability to sing on pitch much less to actually sing a solo in such a way as to not make people twitch in their seats.
Sorry. It’s the truth.
But that one of the ten also made me pause. Nothing is wrong with ambition (I’ve written about that before, so I’ll not expound on it now). But that ambition must be based on giving God glory.
One gentleman a long time ago told me those words above and I was so young in ministry I didn’t know how to respond.
I stuttered out, “How…do you know…that?”
“Because God told me that’s what I was called to do.”
“Um…well…uh…let’s talk about that. Can you sing?”
“I think so” (chuckle).
Well, to cut to the chase, he finally agreed to let me hear him. He could sing. Really well. But he was so arrogant and acidic that he was hardly palpable to even talk to. When I put a microphone in his hand and played some music, it was like a wind-up toy coming to life: mechanical and forced, inauthentic and disconnected.
This was not the case of who the Apostle Paul was dealing with in our passage today in our tour of the book of Philippians. In Philippians 2:19-24 the Apostle writes:
19 I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, that I also may be cheered when I receive news about you. 20 I have no one else like him, who will show genuine concern for your welfare. 21 For everyone looks out for their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. 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. 23 I hope, therefore, to send him as soon as I see how things go with me. 24 And I am confident in the Lord that I myself will come soon.
Philippians 2:19-24, NIV
Timothy was Paul’s son in ministry. By sending Timothy, it’s as good as Paul sending himself to the churches in the Roman city of Philippi. As Paul is waiting on the possibility of his own death, the churches there needed young Timothy more than Paul did.
In addition, Paul tells in Philippians 2:25, they had sent Epaphroditus to him which encouraged him. Now, he was sending his best to encourage them.
While his certainty of his own predicament was in question, he had great confidence in Timothy’s ability because he had proved himself to the Apostle. And now, the seasoned, beloved, and respected Apostle is “handshaking” Timothy into the relationship.
But in sending Timothy, Paul was not sending someone untried and untested. Instead, Timothy was seasoned beyond his years by the Lord’s Spirit in him and by Paul’s training.
There’s a lesson here for us in this short exchange in Paul’s letter. We must be trained before we find greatness in the Kingdom of God. As I heard a wise pastor often say, “if your branches are wider than your roots, you’ll eventually topple.”
Timothy had deep roots. He had endured enough storms to earn his place in Paul’s apostolic team. More than that, God’s call on His life was received as a call to be a servant. Timothy learned to serve like Jesus so when his time came to step up to great influence, his ego was already surrendered to the Lord.
Dear one in Jesus, may we take the time to be like young Timothy. Take the time to grow deep roots in Jesus. Spend time with Him. Learn to worship Him, hear Him, love Him, and obey Him. Grow deeply and allow Him to provide you with the “spread of your branches”.
Don’t be “that guy” that pushes too far too soon. Dig your roots deeply so you’re ready for the greatness I’m certain the Lord has called you to.
Let your “Paul” tell others of your sincerity, ability, and passion.