As we read the letters written by Paul to Timothy we must notice the depth of relationship expressed from Paul’s heart to Timothy. It was not just the writing of a leader to another leader who was accountable to them for some task of ministry. It was a heart-felt expression of a spiritual father to a spiritual son. I believe that it is important for every church leader to identify those who are spiritual fathers in their lives. Some are no doubt spiritual teachers, or spiritual mentors, but only a few are spiritual fathers. Paul understood this very well in that he wrote that there are many teachers, but only a few spiritual fathers.
1 Corinthians 4:15 For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.
Paul’s words to Timothy were words of relationship, not denominational or non-denominational structure of organization or accountability. This is the testimony of true life in the family of God.
2 Timothy 1:1, 2 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus, To Timothy, a beloved son: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
Paul’s expression to Timothy was one of love and affection. He recognized that his own role as a leader was one of spiritual inheritance and that Timothy must be aware that his role was also one of the same. Being a leader is not a matter of merely being qualified to lead or supervise in tasks of ministry. It is a role of spiritual inheritance and responsibility. Paul was a testimony to his forefathers in the faith and Timothy was a testimony to the faith of his mother Eunice and his grandmother Lois. Notice, Paul knew Timothy’s family, their character, their love, and their spiritual testimony. If we consider Jesus, He had a role of being a spiritual father to twelve guys. He was not over hundreds of churches and hundreds of ministries. I have often heard so-called apostolic leaders cite how hundreds of churches are in relationship with them. My question to them would be for them to tell me the name of family members, family history, and spiritual heritage of those they claim to be in relationship with. Being a leader involves being in an intimate relationship with God-sent authority in their lives. It is a matter of relationship, not ministry task or gifting. It is a matter of Divine connection and destiny.
2 Timothy 1:3-5 I thank God, whom I serve with a pure conscience, as my forefathers did, as without ceasing I remember you in my prayers night and day, greatly desiring to see you, being mindful of your tears, that I may be filled with joy, when I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also.
Timothy was to remember his spiritual heritage and to stir up the gift of God that was in him through the laying on of the hands of Paul. Every leader must be able to recognize their spiritual heritage and to recognize that what God has given them is a gift from heaven. It is not a matter of qualification by human strength or skill. It is a matter of gift and grace give by God from heaven. Every leader is responsible before God to stir up what God has put within them for the sake of those they lead.
2 Timothy 1:6, 7 Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
Every leader must understand and embrace the love that God has for them, the power of His purpose and presence in their lives, and the strategy of thinking given to them by God’s grace. God’s love for them is not merely a love for them, but a love to be shown and given to those they lead. Perfect love casts out all fear, and when a leader knows the love of God they can walk in the power that God has given them. When they walk with confidence in the power that God has given them their thinking becomes clear and the strategy of leading rises up from within them.
Timothy was to share in the suffering of Paul. Suffering is part of the process of revealing the true testimony of Christ’s life to those we lead. The testimony of the Lord in our lives can only be revealed through the testing of our faith. A willingness to endure for the sake of our responsibly in Christ is a mark of the character of Christ. Jesus endured the cross for the joy that was set before Him. We must also endure the cup given to us in life for the joy that is set before us. That joy is that the future generations of men and women in Christ will know a greater fullness of Christ because of what we do today.
2 Timothy 1:8-12 Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, to which I was appointed a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles. For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.
The true mark of sent authority is endurance. That endurance leads to a testimony of life for the sake of others. It is through endurance that the purpose of God in our lives is revealed and the testimony of His grace is empowered. This is when the light and life of Christ is us is truly made known.
Food For Thought,
Ted J. Hanson