Posted by: watchman | June 25, 2009

First Timothy 1: Apostle, Mentor and Father

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope,

To Timothy my true son in the faith:
Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

– I Tim 1:1-2 (TNIV)

From the very first sentence of this letter, Paul asserts his apostolic calling. However, this letter reveals one of the most importatnt elements of his calling: Leadership Development.Paul claims direct authority from Jesus himself in verse one and then addresses Timothy as “my true son in the faith.”

This is a fitting manner to start this letter off. Throughout Paul’s correspondence in First Timothy, he is blatanlty attempting to bolster the young overseer’s confidence. Young Timothy needed such bolstering as he obviously had a tough assignment.

How encouraging Paul’s greeting alone must have been! Timothy could face the difficulty before him knowing that his mentor and spiritual father, Paul, was behind him with the full weight of Christ’s authority.

How foreign it is to read this greeting and to read of this relationship in a time when we train pastors and spiritual leaders in the same way that we train accountants. Instead of giving future ministers the wisdom and edification available from experienced ministers in local church ministry, we give them endless hours of theological catechizing, ministerial theory, and a token internship. Whatever happened to having a spiritual father or a ministerial mentor?

Perhaps some of the problems we are having in church leadership today could be averted by a renewed dependence on the wisdom and leadership of a more experienced minister. Personally, my greatest ministerial education came from no book or class. Instead, it came from my mentor and friend Tom Fishell. It is his advice and encouragement that has stuck with me throughout my time in ministry. I believe this is because I learned these lessons in the thick of local church ministry.

Ministry isn’t a theory. It has sinew and bone. Ministries are as diverse and unpredictable as the people who are ministered to.

Do you have a spiritual mentor? Have you been a mentor for someone else? Have you ever had the closeness to call another person your spiritual “father,” or your “true son in the faith”?

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