“You, therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. What you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, commit to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” (CSB – Read the chapter)
If you are someone who would claim the title “Christian,” why do you do that? Were you born into it? Did someone coerce you into it? Were you swayed by the evidence in favor of its reasonableness? What pushed you over the edge to accept that mantle? If I may be so bold, I suspect there was someone other than you who played a role in your decision; possibly a significant role. They played a role in saving your life. Shouldn’t you return the favor by doing the same thing for someone else?
Paul and Timothy were not related at all. They didn’t grow up in the same circles. Apart from the call of Christ on their lives, they didn’t have much of anything in common. And yet, their relationship was like that of a father and a son (and not a distant father and son either). Paul loved Timothy like he was his own flesh and blood and while we don’t have any words from Timothy himself, I think we are safe to assume he returned the sentiment in full.
The reason for this is that at some point in his missionary work, Paul began to mentor Timothy. We don’t have any knowledge of how their relationship got started, but somehow Timothy was mentored by Paul. This was something that went on over the course of several years. Timothy traveled with Paul for a season, but eventually he was called to pastor the church in Ephesus that Paul had planted. He was serving there when Paul was martyred.
Over the course of their relationship, Paul lived life alongside Timothy. He invited him into his world. It was both a formal and an informal process. He spoke into his personal and his professional life. And, at the end of the day, he called Timothy to do the same thing with other guys. He called him to give what he had been given.
In all of this, what we find is a pattern worth mimicking in our own lives. The fact is, if you are following Jesus, there is a very good chance someone else had something to do with that. As I said before, this someone else may have had a very great deal to do with that. You have been given a gift in this that has completely transformed the shape and trajectory of your life. You are not doing the same things in the same way that you would have been without this gift. The challenge I would like to set before you and me both is this: How can you pay it forward?
Who do you have in your life that you can begin mentoring in the faith? It could be a family member, but it could also be someone to whom you are not related at all. It should probably be someone younger than you, but at the very least it should be someone younger in their faith journey.
What you’ll do in this relationship is to live life alongside your mentee. You’ll walk with him through hard things you face and the hard things he has to go through. You’ll help her see how to keep her eyes on Jesus no matter what life throws her way. And all the while, you’ll be building in his life a foundation of Scripture that will be able to withstand all the shakes and shudders of life.
Doing this, starting up mentoring relationships, is not something you do only for them either. It is good and necessary for your own faith growth and development to do this as well. If you’ve been poured into, you need to pour into others.
Think about it like this: If you pour some clean fresh water into a bucket and leave it, what will happen? At first nothing. It was clean from the start and so it’ll stay clean for a while. But not forever. Eventually it’s going to get stale. Then, as various bugs and germs and bacteria are allowed by the lack of movement to take root and grow, it’ll start to get stagnant. Stagnant water isn’t safe to drink. It’ll likely make you sick.
Are you with me? If the water of the Spirit of God in our lives just sits there and doesn’t go anywhere, eventually it’s going to get stale. If left alone long enough, it’ll get stagnant. Even stagnant water of the Spirit becomes poisonous after a time if it isn’t tended. The way to avoid this with physical water is to keep it flowing. Water that runs into a container and then out of that container into another container and on and on from there stays clean. Not only does it stay clean for others to use, it cleans the containers it flows through as well.
If you are a follower of Jesus, you have had somebody pour into your life at some point along the journey. Pour into others. Find someone with the prayerfully sought help of the Holy Spirit to give what you have been given. You’ll make their life better, you’ll make your life better, and you’ll expand the kingdom of God in the process. Everyone wins. Who can you mentor? The kingdom is waiting to expand.