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Paul and Timothy

Everyone needs a mentor. Everyone needs someone just ahead of where they are in their growth, while everyone also needs to mentor those coming up behind them. The relationship between Paul and Timothy is arguably the best example of mentorship in the Scriptures. And it starts with their attitude. To be mentored, Timothy had to be humble and teachable, and not act as if he knew it all. While in Paul’s case, he had to exercise patience, as young Timothy grew in faith and wisdom.

Parenthood: Timothy grew up learning the sacred writings (II Tim. 1:5, 3:15). While his mother (Eunice) and grandmother (Lois) both had “genuine faith,” Timothy’s biological father was Greek and there is no evidence he was a Christian. Paul filled the shoes of Timothy’s spiritual father; Timothy was likely in his late teens or early 20s when Paul wanted Timothy to accompany him in his travels (Acts 16:3).Their relationship grew to the extent that Paul referred to Timothy as his “true and beloved son in the faith.”

Pace Setter: Paul set a godly example for Timothy (II Tim. 3:10-11), and then commanded Timothy to “be an example” (I Tim. 4:12). How would he do that? In word, conduct, love, spirit, in faith, and in purity. Paul raises the bar with Timothy: Be the type of person to whom other people can look to model Jesus. And do it everywhere — in the home, in the church, and in the world. Remember that someone is always watching you and the progress you’re making (I Tim. 4:15).

Partnership: Paul included Timothy in everything — the joys, the difficulties, and everything in between. Timothy proved his worth to Paul, and as a result, Paul trusted him (I Thess. 3:2, 6; Phil. 2:19). Paul looked at Timothy as an equal partner: “Timothy, my fellow worker, sends you his greetings” (Rom. 16:21). Paul didn’t shelter or hide Timothy from the reality of ministry, nor did Timothy shy away from the messiness that at times come with it. Because of their strong partnership, both men benefited, and the gospel spread.

Steven Matthews


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