You Need a Timothy!

Legend-of-Zelda-Wallpaper-the-legend-of-zelda-5433362-1600-1200Acts 16:1-5

This may be news to you:  Jordan Verner of Ontario, Canada, recently beat the video game The Legend of Zelda.  “Okay.  so what?” you might respond, “He’s not unique.  Lots of people have beaten that game.”  Well, Jordan Verner is blind!  He went on the internet to enlist the help of other gamers to help him.  Four rose up to meet the challenge. It took them two years but they played The Legend of Zelda and recorded every jump, roll, and sound.  Jordan then took this information and entered it into his computer which would then read them aloud as he played. And he was then able to finally beat The Legend of Zelda without ever laying eyes on the screen.

It seems to me that there are a lot of young men and women out there that could use the benefit of someone in life that knows all the jumps, rolls and sounds to look out for.  I believe that there is indeed a Timothy for every Paul in this world.  But often young people are left to figure out life blindly.

Paul had his literal Timothy and poured his life into the young man.

1He came to Derbe and then to Lystra, where a disciple named Timothy lived, whose mother was a Jewess and a believer, but whose father was a Greek. 2The brothers at Lystra and Iconium spoke well of him. 3Paul wanted to take him along on the journey, so he circumcised him because of the Jews who lived in that area, for they all knew that his father was a Greek.

What do we know about Timothy?  He’s green.  He has baggage.  But he’s teachable.  Paul’s willingness to take this young man under his wing would lead him to write two of the books of the New Testament to teach and encourage him.

How close was Paul to Timothy?  Paul writes to the Philippians that Timothy had proved himself, and in the first of two letters written by Paul to Timothy in the NT, Paul calls his protégé:  “My true son in the faith.”  That’s close.  How close are you to someone that needs your guidance and support?

In previous posts I’ve mentioned that we all need mentors like Barnabus, and friends like Silas, but let me now stress that we also need a Timothy! – young men or women that we are mentoring and working to build into their lives.

You might protest: “I’m no Paul!  What do I have that I can share with another?  I need to get my own stuff together before I begin mentoring.”

Not only is it true that you are selling yourself short… and you may also be hampering your own spiritual growth.

In a recent Leadership Journal interview with David Platt (right), he was asked:  “Some leaders feel like they’ve been

Pastor of the Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, AL

Pastor of the Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, AL

called by God, yet there are some days when they feel like imposters.  They don’t feel holy enough, faithful enough, gracious enough, strong enough, competent enough.  They feel obligated to talk further than they’ve walked.  Do you ever identify with that?”

He responded:  “Definitely.  With any kind of spiritual leadership, whether it’s pastoring a church or discipling one person, you get to the point where you see  something you need to call people to do.  Then you realize you’re not doing that, certainly not to the degree you’d like to see others do it. … Someone might say, “I’m not disciplined enough in prayer to teach someone else how to pray.”  Well, start teaching them anyway and it’s actually going to cause you to be more disciplined in prayer. … God’s got this thing rigged.  He’s designed disciple-making not just for other’s santification, but for our own sanctification, too.  … I tell my folks here that until we pour into others’ lives we’re going to hit a ceiling in our own life spiritually.  As long as it’s just about us, then our sanctification will not happen as effectively as it would if we are working to lead others to faith in Christ.” (Leadership Journal, Winter 2013, p. 27.)

Taken any jumps, rolls, twists and turns of that spiritual journey of yours?  Then there are those behind you that need your eyes.  Would you kindly step up to the challenge?

Heated Debate

fightActs 15: 36-41

37 Barnabas wanted to take John, called Mark, along with them also. 38 But Paul kept insisting that they should not take him along who had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work. 39 And there occurred such a sharp disagreement that they separated from one another, and Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus.

I read a recent article on a Christian website titled:  “10 Honest Observations from a Former Church Insider.”  The author of the article had been a pastor for many years and then at a relatively young age (for reasons not cited) had to step down.  He mentioned what it was like to now be an “outsider” in church.  He listed 10 things that he saw were problems that perhaps someone so close to the heartbeat of a church might be blinded to.  I agreed with him on just about everything and appreciated his insights… and was about to move on.  Then I read the comments from pastors that read the article before me.  Many were not kind!  They didn’t like much of what the author had to say, but sometimes it bordered on people not liking him personally.  One critic wrote:  “I will gladly take advice from anyone willing to get in there and do the work. Not just leave when things are not going their own way.”  Another wrote:  “I became bored with hearing the same “complaints” from yet another disenchanted church goer.”   The idea of hearing ideas from a “quitter” was too much for some.

Just when I was completely discouraged… a number of Barnabas people stepped in and saved the day… offering encouragement and peace.   Some were among bloggers that I trust David I. Guinn and Joe McKeever.

I call these men Barnabas people because the comment page appeared to me at times to be a retelling of the sharp disagreement Paul and Barnabas had over Mark way back in the book of Acts.  It was a “sharp” disagreement… as the Greek will bear out.  Barnabas wanted to give his cousin another chance.  Paul wanted to show him the door.

The Bible does not tell us who was right or wrong,  just that the debate was heated and the result was a split of the Apostolic Missionary Super Team.   NT Scholar A.T. Robertson remarked:  “No one can rightly blame Barnabas for giving his cousin John Mark a second chance nor Paul for fearing to risk him again.  One’s judgment may go with Paul, but one’s heart goes with Barnabas.”

There is so much irony in this passage.  the second missionary journey began with the idea of checking up on people and churches from the first journey and seeing how they were doing spiritually .   Yet Paul is ready to give John Mark the boot before he even takes the young man’s spiritual temperature!  The second ironic thing is that Paul should have known by now the heart of his friend, Barnabas.  It wasn’t too long ago that Barnabas pulled a snot nosed kid out of the gutter and offered that young man a chance when no one else would even trust him… I refer, of course, to Paul himself.

My heart goes out to those who wrote out of concerned for this young man and his quest to find God… and to all Barnabas types that may face some rough criticism, but are still willing to extend a hand to “quitters” in an effort to help.

More on this… and a story too… later this week.