For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. I urge you then, be imitators of me. 1 Corinthians 4:15-16 ESV
To Timothy, my true son in the faith. Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. 2 Timothy 1:2 CSB
To Titus, my true son in our common faith. Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior. Titus 1:4 CSB
Leaders, as Father’s Day approaches, could I encourage you to consider Paul’s example of investing in faithful men? Although Paul was neither Timothy nor Titus’ biological father, he loved them, encouraged them, and blessed them with the heart of a father. Even more, with the heart of The Father.
It may be well to set aside time to read Paul’s letters to Timothy and Titus through two different lenses.
Become an Apprentice of Paul
First, read as an eager apprentice who has been given an assignment that you know you’re not ready for. You’re in over your head, and you don’t feel like you can do the work. You don’t believe in yourself. But. But. But. BUT… someone whom you greatly admire does believe in you.
Paul, who has taught you what it means to follow Christ, believes you have what it takes to lead a church, share the Gospel, advance the Kingdom, and represent Christ in the church.
Paul believes in you! And because he believes in you, your confidence grows. Your willingness to speak boldly, take chances, disciple believers, and confront sin has increased.
Paul is fanning the spark of faith that he sees in you into flame by reminding you:
- Let no one look down on your youthful inexperience.
- Christ is in you, and He is able.
- Seek out men of integrity to appoint as elders and deacons.
- Set an example for others.
- Invest in faithful men.
- Follow his example of pursuing Christ.
Read 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus a few times through that lens. I believe you will be encouraged as I am.
Think Like Paul
Now, read these letters through Paul’s eyes, and read them with a young man in mind who is serious about his faith though it may not yet be fully formed in his life.
- Read them prayerfully, asking God to point you to a young man He has gifted and prepared to lead his church in some form (not necessarily as a pastor).
- Read these letters asking God to show you a man who needs encouragement because he’s leading people who are older chronologically but less mature spiritually.
- Read these letters asking God who you could bless by simply saying, “I see something in you. God has gifted you in Christ, and I am praying for you!”
- Read these letters asking God to reveal to you someone who has been deserted or betrayed. “For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica.” 2 Timothy 4:10.
Now, go reach out to a few contacts.
Reach out to someone who was a Paul to you, a father figure, someone who diligently pointed you to Christ. Thank him for his example and let him know how his patient investment in you is producing fruit.
Also, connect with a few Timothys, young men who don’t believe in themselves and could use some encouragement. Take time to be an example of Father God’s love and concern in someone else’s life.
I’m praying and believing that we all need to do more of this, thanking the Pauls and encouraging the Timothys in our lives.
Let us know how it goes!