What’s the next “thing”?
The man who asked me that question would call himself my colleague, but I think of him as a mentor in many ways. He has been down the roads in ministry leadership I am heading towards. He has experienced the thrill of fast, healthy congregational growth, and he has experienced harsh criticism inherent to any leadership.
And as I was having lunch with him on a beautiful, cool day in early winter, he asked about the next “thing” coming up for us as a congregation. He helped me process where we’re heading in reaching people for Jesus. He kept me from a misstep and he encouraged me to keep the mission “front and center”.
His model serves as a guide for me.
And it’s Biblical to provide models for others to follow. In 2 Timothy 1:13-14 we find very similar language.
13 What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. 14 Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.2 Timothy 1:13-14
New International Version
The power of a mentor can hardly be overstated. In the life of Timothy, that mentor was Paul. In some ways, it would have been difficult to be the Apostle’s mentee. You would have watched him struggle through thick-headedness against his message, other Christians criticizing his methods to the Gentiles (non-Jewish people), and imprisonment and mistreatment.
It wouldn’t have been glamorous.
In other ways, it would have been one of the most exhilarating experiences Timothy could have ever hoped and prayed for. This was Paul: the church planting, rough-riding, adventurous, faith-filled, wise, wise-cracking, persecutor-turned-apostle whom Jesus appeared to personally on a road while he was trying to stomp out early Christianity. Wow!
And Timothy was among the “second generation” of pastor-teachers and leaders in the Church. In passing along the message of Jesus, Paul told his mentee “keep as the pattern of sound teaching…” (verse 13b) what he’d heard Paul teach—more than simply heard with his ears but what Timothy had experienced with Paul.
The word “pattern” Paul uses can also be translated as “example”. Paul modeled what faithfulness to the mission of Jesus looked like. He demonstrated by the pattern of his life that the teachings on his lips were real.
While Timothy (and others) would express Paul’s message and style of presenting Jesus, they would inject their own personality and experiences into it.
Yet, Paul gave them an example to follow by modeling “sound teaching”.
Part of this model included how the teaching was to be done: “with faith and love in Christ Jesus” (verse 13b). This is really crucial; don’t miss it. How Timothy (and others) were to maintain the “good deposit” of doctrinal truth was as important as the doctrinal truth itself. You might need to read that sentence again. I need to read it a lot.
What we read in verse 14 is nothing less than the Apostle’s mantel being passed to young Timothy. Timothy was ready—or at least as ready as he was going to get at this point. And Paul of all people knew it.
Who’s mentoring you in the matters of faith? And for the record, that encompasses all of life.
Who are you mentoring in matters of faith? And, yes, this encompasses all of life.
In other words, who are you connecting to the great “chain” of the Church? And who is connecting you?
Christianity is always one generation from dying out; therefore, we must all pass on what we have experienced. We must share with those who come after us both the triumph and pain of our lives with Jesus.
And when the time is right, I hope you get to utter the words the Apostle Paul did. I hope you get to pass on your role and model to someone else who will pick it up and run with it.
What a blessing from the Lord to be a link in His chain called the Church!
Looking for more like this to help your spiritual journey with Jesus?
Then please consider my book, 31 Days of Spiritual Wisdom, based on a study in Proverbs. It’s available either in print or on Kindle.