Many people know that Paul was one of the greatest leaders of the Christian faith. He planted churches, pastored churches, led with the apostles, wrote inspired letters, evangelized cities, loved people, fostered relationships between churches, and suffered for the Gospel. But he did something else that was essential to the progress of the Gospel. He took a young inexperienced and timid man under his wing, trained him, taught him, loved him, served him, gave him opportunities to lead, and at the end of his life passed the baton.
It all started in Acts 16:3 – so Paul wanted (Timothy) to join them on their journey…
This is a verse that we are not typically attracted to as being significant, but as I consider how God has worked in my life and where He is wanting to take my family now, it has become impactful.
Paul wasn’t just inviting Timothy on a short-term mission trip. He invited Timothy to be his spiritual son, a future co-laborer, and finally, one who would carry the Gospel baton to the next generation. Timothy got to see and experience what Paul did for the sake of the Gospel: his hurts, his joys, his passion for health in the church, his evangelism, and his suffering. Paul intimately trained Timothy.
I am a Timothy
I am a Timothy and knowing that causes me to well up with joy and thanksgiving. My family came to Faith Church when I was around 12 years old in 2001, and since then, Faith has been our home. It was not more than a year before older men in the church saw me and wanted me to join them on their journeys.
It was Joe Wright (my dad) teaching me how to work by inviting me to work with him on painting projects during the summer and also discipling me at home.
It was Jeff Walters (deacon/jr. high leader) inviting me to serve by cleaning the kitchen with him and others on Wednesday nights.
It was Scott Grass (FCS principal) training me in spiritual leadership as high school class president and inviting me to coach basketball with him in college.
It was Troy Grimes (Faith coach and Director of Maintenance) coaching me on leadership as I led the basketball team and then inviting me to work with him.
It was Titus Curtis (Pastor of Worship) inviting me to join him on worship team and training me on what it meant to care for and pastor people.
It was Johnny Kjaer (Youth Pastor) inviting me into his home to let me see a family dedicated to ministry.
It was Brent Aucoin (Pastor of Soul Care) inviting me into discipleship and into the seminary program.
It was Steve Viars (Senior Pastor) inviting me to plant Faith Church North, lead the Hartford Hub, and be a part of starting the Northend Community Center.
These are men who saw me and wanted me on the journey with them.
Even with my flaws
When they saw me, they didn’t just see my strengths. They saw my weaknesses – my fear, pride, selfishness, a craving for success, and they still invited me on the journey with them.
But they did not just see my weaknesses. They also experienced them.
Paul probably knew that he would be more efficient on his own, but the next generation would suffer. Timothy would suffer. Other churches would suffer.
Each of the men that saw me could have found a more qualified, skilled, or sanctified man than me. There are plenty of reasons each of these men could give for why they could have reasonably left me behind, but they didn’t. They picked me up, taught me, encouraged me, and invited me to get back on the journey with them.
Humanly speaking, I am doing what I am doing today because these men invited me on a journey with them. Lord-willing, this September, my wife, Cara, and our two daughters will be moving to New Jersey to begin working on planting a church with Converge Northeast. None of these men (including me) knew what they were preparing me for. They just knew that the best way to further the Gospel was to invite others on the journey – someone like me.
We all need an invitation
We all need someone leading us in our journeys with Christ. We need a Paul in our lives – a person who encourages, teaches, picks us up when we fall, and trains us to walk with Him.
In Paul’s last letter to Timothy, he says, “Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy.” We need someone who cares about us and our faith the same way Paul cared for Timothy.
Who has invited you to journey with them?
Who is the one that you get to learn from in your walk with Christ? Who is the one who picks you up in failure? Who is the one who is always ready to help you take your next step with Jesus? Whoever it is, take some time this week to thank them for their investment in you. If you don’t have someone like that, watch, pray, and listen for one.
We need to give out invitations
When Jesus left, He told His disciples to go and make new disciples all over the world. Jesus chose to use us as the way the Gospel would spread. This means that we need to invite men and women to journey with us.
Who have you invited to journey with you?
Pray for them. Love them. Care for them. Teach them. Do not give up on them. Your investment in that person may impact the spiritual well-being of many others. If you don’t have someone walking with you, ask God who you are supposed to invite on the journey with you.
As you walk with Christ, listen for invitations, and give invitations out. This is part of what Gospel ministry is about.