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Who’s Your Timothy?

“If you stop learning and growing today, you stop ministering tomorrow.” –Howard Hendricks


After a distinguished performing career, virtuoso violinist Jascha Heifetz accepted an appointment as professor of music at UCLA. Asked what prompted his change of career, Heifetz replied: “Violin playing is a perishable art. It must be passed on as a personal skill; otherwise it is lost.”

Heifetz speaks of mentoring. And we should listen to the great musician.

The skills and disciplines for living a Christian life aren’t picked up sitting in the audience, watching skilled veterans perform. We need hands-on instruction to grow.

We have a responsibility, as we’re growing in Christ, to provide those hands-on lessons to the next generation of believers.

When you think of mentoring relationships in the Bible, Paul and Timothy come immediately to mind. Paul was a lifestyle mentor to young Timothy.

This sort of mentoring is kind of like parenting—but without parental responsibilities! It involves:

  • letting someone share much of your life,
  • walk with you,
  • and observe you in action.

Late in his life Paul wrote to Timothy: “You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, sufferings—what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them” (2 Timothy 3:10, 11).

Timothy knew, because he’d been there. They were life lessons, experienced. Paul gave his young protégé consistent signals and provided him a consistent example. From such a foundation, he could speak into the younger man’s life, and tell him what to expect:

“Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:12-15).

Paul’s investment in Timothy made a difference in both of their lives. Paul came to view Timothy as “my true son in the faith” (1 Timothy 1:2).

He was able to commend him to others: “I have no one else like Timothy, who genuinely cares about your welfare. All the others care only for themselves and not for what matters to Jesus Christ. But you know how Timothy has proved himself. Like a son with his father, he has served with me in preaching the Good News” (Philippians 2:20-22).

Who in my sphere of influence would be a good candidate for me to mentor? What am I waiting for?


My prayer this week – Heavenly Father, you’ve blessed me so I can be a blessing to others. Who in my life would you have me mentor? Will you give me the courage to live my faith vibrantly before others?