Even the most gifted of leaders cannot be every place at every time and in touch with every situation that develops. This was especially true in the early church era as church communities were being developed in disparate cities around the Roman world. An ongoing leadership presence needed to be in place at each church plant. Paul himself had spent some time teaching in most of these locations, but for ongoing leadership it was not as if he could put together a group email, Facetime his buddies or use a resource like WhatsApp to keep in touch with his younger apprentices.
There was therefore a need for Paul to reproduce other leaders who could be discipled to carry on the work in his absence. We regularly come across various of these individuals listed in Paul’s writings. And foremost among them was his special son in the faith: Timothy – speaking of him in 1 Timothy 1:2, “To Timothy my true son in the faith.” The letters Paul writes to him and to Titus are – as we named the prior series of the Pastoral Epistles – the nuts and bolts as to how to make local church ministry work, even with all its complexities.
If a church is to thrive over a long period of time, rising generations of leaders need to be taught, developed and unleashed to do the same with others as years go by. The same is true of our families. We need to know the Scriptures and teach and live them in front of our children and grandchildren if we want to see generations of followers of Christ. None of this happens without intentionality.
So Paul told Timothy to be intentional with an active discipleship process…
2 Timothy 2:2 – And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.
And to Titus, whom Paul had assigned leadership in a difficult environment on the island of Crete, he wrote about church leadership development …
Titus 1:5-9 – The reason I left you in Crete was that you might put in order what was left unfinished and appoint elders in every town, as I directed you. 6 An elder must be blameless, faithful to his wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient. 7 Since an overseer manages God’s household, he must be blameless—not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. 8 Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. 9 He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.
Paul further wrote to Titus about older generations influencing the younger …
Titus 2:2-5 – Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance.
3 Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. 4 Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.
Everyone fits into this process somewhere. Most folks are, at the same time, both in a process of personal growth and enrichment while also actively taking a part in passing truth and wisdom along to others down the line. There is a “hand up” and a “hand down.” Taking / Giving.
Is that you? Do you have both going on? You’re not one of those people who only go through life with a hand up, are you? Only ever taking in what others minister to you, while never actively passing it on to someone else? Man, don’t be that person! We ain’t got time for that!