Jump Start # 2795
2 Timothy 2:1-2 “You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, these entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.”
We are in the month of March now. College basketball is firing up for “March madness.” Professional baseball is busy in spring training. Young baseball players are putting forth their best to try to make the cut to be on a big league team. And, those thoughts take us to our verse today. Not baseball. Not sports. But training, developing and mentoring the next generation of leaders and teachers in God’s kingdom.
Paul expresses it two ways in our passage today. First, what you have heard from me. Timothy had heard Paul preach. This is what Timothy was to preach and teach to others. Timothy had been shown what to do. Second, “these” entrust to others who will teach even more. The “these” is what Timothy had heard Paul teach. “These” are the topics, the subjects that need to be shared with others. And, right here, we notice and see that Paul was training Timothy. Paul was mentoring Timothy. He didn’t send him out without any guidance, help or instruction. Paul was the first century “Youtube” video on how to preach. What you have seen me do, you do. Follow the leader. This is the way you do it.
Now all of this leads us to where we are today. How does a young person get developed to lead, teach and preach? How do we train someone to shepherd the people of God? The old model was pretty raw and without much help. I’ve heard the stories. Many of you have been there. Some preacher calls up a young Christian and tells him, not asks, but tells him, that he’ll be preaching next week at such and such a place. The young man goes and does the best he can but he’s out of his league and has no idea how to do it. This is how many preachers got started. They simply went out and started preaching. Whatever habits they developed, they did on their own. And, it’s even worse when it comes to shepherding God’s people. A church decides that they’d like more elders. Names are put forth. After the painful process, one or two make the cut and are selected as the new elders. They meet on a Sunday afternoon for the first time with the rest of the elders and they don’t know what to do. They don’t know if they can speak out, if they should speak out, or when to speak out. Months often pass before they get the feel of things and start to get comfortable with how things are. Most just take on the nature of what they see. Little prep has been given to them about what they ought to do, expect or what their roles are. And a couple of decades pass and now these guys are the inexperienced seasoned leaders who do most of the talking as new elders sit in a room with their eyes wide open, not sure what to expect.
Our passages tells us that Timothy was with Paul. He had heard Paul preach. He had traveled with Paul. The conversations, the questions, the growth took place as they spent time together. Here are some thoughts from this:
First, it is the role of the congregation to develop new preachers and leaders. It’s important to find slots for these eager young men to stand before a congregation and preach. Allowing a man to preach once or twice a year doesn’t do much for development. This is a great opportunity for the preacher to do some mentoring and sharing of practical ideas to help a young man. Most don’t know. Rather than seeing someone fall flat, help them before and afterwards. Be kind. Build up. Take a look at his outline. Give him some suggestions. Mentor. That helps the young man and it helps the church.
Second, shepherds need to develop future shepherds. Who is on the radar to be the next shepherd? Take that guy out to lunch. Let him ask all kinds of questions. Talk to him about what you do as a shepherd among God’s people. Bring him along as you make some visits.
Third, legacy is a big part of a growing and healthy church. Looking to the next group of leaders and training them and teaching them will help the church. All of this takes time, but it’s an investment that will pay off greatly as these men become teachers and later, leaders among God’s people.
Fourth, a bit of patience is needed in this process. The young and inexperienced will not be seasoned as the regular preacher. Mistakes will be made. The comments and reactions can encourage or defeat a young person. All of us started out raw, inexperienced and having more zeal than knowledge. We said things that weren’t 100% correct. We fumbled now and then. But folks were patient with us. People believed in us. We worked and worked and got better. It’s the same for all of us.
We have seen congregations where no one wants to teach. No one wants to step up and lead. Those that do teach, are tired, burned out and carrying the whole load. Everyone else just sits. I know a place where once you got into the teaching program you never got out. It was a life sentence. And, many looked at it just that way. The inside joke was it was better to be a woman than a man, because a woman could become pregnant and get out of teaching. The man was stuck. And, when you have people teaching that do not want to teach, but feel that have to, it makes a long and tedious class. The excitement, joy and love of God’s word is missing because of the week upon week, month upon month, year after year of teaching. And, why is it that way? The answer is always the same. There is no one else who will teach. And, that may be the result of no one being mentored or trained. And what people witness is a burned out, tired teacher and who wants to sign up for that.
“The things which you have heard from me…these entrust to others.” Passing the baton on. Handing the keys over. Looking to the next generation. This is an important role that churches fill. Those that do it well, thrive. Those that don’t, generally die.