Are you a single parent? Is your spouse not a believer? You don’t have to disciple your kids all on your own.
How much do you know about Timothy? Two letters Paul wrote to him are included in the New Testament, but what do you know about him?
Scholars believe that Timothy had a Roman father and a Christian mother. His father may have died when he was young, but that is uncertain. This information primary comes from these verses.
“Paul came to Derbe. Then he went on to Lystra. A believer named Timothy lived there. His mother was Jewish and a believer. His father was a Greek. The believers at Lystra and Iconium said good things about Timothy. Paul wanted to take him along on the journey. So he circumcised Timothy because of the Jews who lived in that area. They all knew that Timothy’s father was a Greek.
Acts 16:1-3 (NIRV)
Roman citizenship was granted through the patriarchal line. Since Timothy’s father is not mentioned as one of the ones teaching Timothy about God (2 Timothy 1:5), one can assume that he followed the Roman religion of many temperamental gods. (See more about Roman mythology here.)
So how did Timothy grow to be a leader in the church? The prayers and teaching of his mother and grandmother for one. For another, Paul became his spiritual mentor. A mentor is someone other than a parent who encourages, teaches, and disciples someone who is still learning and growing. This is a very biblical principle. Peter describes this relationship. (Keep in mind that an “elder” in this case is simply someone who has been a believer longer than the “younger” and has one or more other Christians in his or her care.)
I’m speaking to the elders among you. I was a witness of Christ’s sufferings. And I will also share in the glory that is going to come. I’m making my appeal to you as one who is an elder together with you. Be shepherds of God’s flock, the believers under your care. Watch over them, though not because you have to. Instead, do it because you want to. That’s what God wants you to do. Don’t do it because you want to get money in dishonest ways. Do it because you really want to serve. Don’t act as if you were a ruler over those under your care. Instead, be examples to the flock. The Chief Shepherd will come again. Then you will receive the crown of glory. It is a crown that will never fade away.
In the same way, I’m speaking to you who are younger. Follow the lead of those who are older. All of you, put on a spirit free of pride toward one another. Put it on as if it were your clothes. Do this because Scripture says,
“God opposes those who are proud.
But he gives grace to those who are humble.” (Proverbs 3:34)
So make yourselves humble. Put yourselves under God’s mighty hand. Then he will honor you at the right time. Turn all your worries over to him. He cares about you.
1 Peter 5:1-6 (NIRV)
Paul and Timothy had this relationship and became very close. Listen to what Paul said in one of his letters to the young man.
Timothy, I am sending you this letter. You are my dear son.
May God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord give you grace, mercy and peace.
I thank God, whom I serve as did our people of long ago. I serve God, knowing that what I have done is right. Night and day I thank God for you. Night and day I always remember you in my prayers. I remember your tears. I long to see you so that I can be filled with joy. I remember your honest and true faith. It was alive first in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice. And I am certain that it is now alive in you also.
This is why I remind you to help God’s gift grow, just as a small spark grows into a fire. God put his gift in you when I placed my hands on you. God gave us his Spirit. And the Spirit doesn’t make us weak and fearful. Instead, the Spirit gives us power and love. He helps us control ourselves. So don’t be ashamed of the message about our Lord. And don’t be ashamed of me, his prisoner. Instead, join with me as I suffer for the good news. God’s power will help us do that.
2 Timothy 1:2-8 (NIRV)
So how did Paul mentor Timothy? Look back over the passages we quoted.
- Paul met Timothy and cared about him.
- Paul taught Timothy about Jesus and God’s Word.
- Paul took Timothy with him to teach and serve others.
- Paul encouraged Timothy to use his gifts to the glory of God.
- Paul sent Timothy off on his own missions, coming back to report to Paul (i.e. 1 Thessalonians 3:6-7).
- Paul stayed in touch with Timothy.
You can do that too. Someone can also do that with your kids. You don’t have to be perfect. None of us are. We are simply two sinners, saved by grace, seeking to live a life pleasing to the Lord God almighty (i.e. 2 Timothy 1:1-2).