I moved to the Houston area three years ago. After my arrival here, my family and I started looking for a church to attend with hopes to join. We enjoyed visiting some churches and some, to be honest, not so much. Honestly, I don't miss the “hunt” for a church. I am thankful for where God has placed us.
One of the first places we visited is the church we actually ended up eventually joining. One of the reasons that I enjoyed being there was the people. One of them specifically caught my attention from our first visit. You see, the church we were visiting has Sunday school an hour before service for all ages. After that, we scoop up our kiddos and all join in for service. It was while we were in that Sunday school class for adults that I had the pleasure of meeting one of the most influential men I have ever met.
His name was Mark Stewart. He was a big guy. I don't mean that as an insult, either. He was as tall as he was strong. As big as he was, he was just as kind, caring, and genuinely interested in talking to you. When he asked “How was your week?” you knew he actually wanted to know. This man eventually became one of my closest friends.
This large, loving man was one of the best examples I have seen on how to live for Christ and on how to be an encourager. He was the main teacher in our Sunday school class and he always started the class with a question. “How has God been good to you this week?” he would boom from the front of the class. Usually after a few seconds of silence he would then start reminding all of us that each breath we have is a gift, and the food that we have is a gift. At first when he asked that question I laughed, but after his explanation, I was convicted. God is good to us all the time even when we don't even recognize it.
Even though Mark is now with our Lord, his memory will continue to live on because of how brightly he shined his light into the darkness of this world. As I thought about him after his passing I, in a way, compare his relationship with me or so many others in which he was influential, with the one between Paul and Timothy.
They spent much time with each other. It was a true and loving friendship. If you look at how Paul talks to Timothy and addresses him, you will see the love and kindness in his words.
To Timothy, my true child in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. - 1 Timothy 1:2
He calls him his “true child in the faith.” This is such a loving way for Paul to address his faithful friend. Timothy wasn't a physical child but “in the faith.” You see, Paul was a mentor to Timothy. He helped train him up and did much in the way of ministry with him. I suggest you go through and read Acts and 1st and 2nd Timothy. Paul, while preaching the Gospel in the area Timothy was from, Lystra, shared the Gospel with Timothy's mother and grandmother. In that time Timothy repented and believed in Christ alone as well. Timothy went out with Paul and became a faithful worker alongside him.
The letters of Timothy are so kind and filled with guidance, teaching, and direction on how to steward people in the faith. It is also filled with encouragement for Timothy as he was a leader at that time. It was truly a wonderful friendship and a great thing for Timothy to have in his life; someone to lovingly guide him with wisdom, knowledge, and godly discipline.
This is what I had in my friend who is now with the Lord. This is what we should all have in our lives. We as men need older, wiser men who are willing to pour into us. Ones who will ask us the real and hard questions and call us to live out our lives in a God honoring manner. Those who will continually point to Christ and all the while speaking scripture in almost every conversation. I know I said men, but this also goes for women. Each woman of the body of Christ needs a godly woman who, much like the men, will pour into them as well.
We all need to have a “Paul” in our lives. We all should have a Timothy in our lives as well. If you think that you have nothing to offer, you're wrong. God can and will use you in ways you can’t imagine. Mark had almost 500 people at his celebration of life ceremony. He touched so many lives because he lived out his faith and he truly cared for people. He was the example I had and one I pray I live up to. So, seeing the way that Paul lived his life and the way he helped train up and mentor others, let me ask you a question.
Do you have a “Paul” in your life? Or, do you have a “Timothy”? Are you helping the new believers? Are you helping others live in a God-honoring maner? If not, let me encourage you to do so. It's something that will truly help you grow no matter which role you are playing.