Good morning. Second Timothy, what a great book, Second Timothy, chapter 2. Second Timothy chapter 2 verse 1, "You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also." Would you join me as we pray? Father in heaven, we are so grateful that you have committed to us ministry, that we have the opportunity to touch and handle holy things. We understand that with that comes an enormous responsibility.
We know that we are not worthy, but we know that your grace is absolutely and totally sufficient even for our inadequacies. And, Father, we pray that as you have already spoken clearly, not only in the messages that we have heard, but in conversations we have had with one another, the time of fellowship and encouragement. We pray that you would continue to speak and to equip us for the task of building up your kingdom, in Jesus' name, amen.
Probably most of you are parents, yes? You have children? Do you remember waiting for that first child to come in your home? Well, think back a little bit. You anticipated the day when you would bring home that perfect, cuddly, delightful, wonderful infant. The day of the birth came, you brought the child home, and after about a week you discovered that you had something that was a cross between The Terminator and the Swamp Thing. [laughter] I mean, this creature was asleep when you were awake and wide awake when you were trying to go to sleep. It had a set of lungs that could drown out a jet trying to take off.
One wife said to her husband, "Honey, I'm forgetting what our baby's face looks like, I'm spending so much time at the other end." You know, ministry can sometimes be like that. [laughter] We clean up messes. There's a lot of messes in people's lives, and as you know, people can mess up their lives pretty royally. Because of that we can find the tendency to forget what drew us into serving Christ in the first place. The sheer joy of ministry can sometimes be lost. One of the problems with being a leader is sometimes it's hard to tell the difference---are people following you or are they chasing you?
Now, here's the antidote for that. I think we find it here in this chapter. The antidote to the ministry mess is to train up and send out messengers into the mess. If there's a mess, raise up a messenger with a message and send them into the mess, replicate yourself, train others to help out and to do the work of the ministry. You know, we've already discussed that Paul was in prison. For him, you might say, life indeed was a mess. Things weren't good. This was his swan song. He was going to be going to heaven very shortly after this. But he has a successor.
He's poured his life into somebody named Timothy, that young man who has now become a leader. And I want to talk to you about raising up leaders, mentoring messengers for the ministry. Speaking of parenting, by the way, that is the purpose of being a parent. The reason you have children is to raise them up and launch them out into this world. It's all about the launch. You're preparing the next generation. But you're not just preparing them to be launched, you're preparing them to be leaders, and not just leaders, but responsible leaders, responsible adults.
You want that son of yours to become, one day, a father. You want that daughter of yours one day to become a mother. You're training up the next generation of leaders, and ministry is exactly the same. Ministry always involves transmission. We're transmitting what God has done through us and in us to other people. And so it's all about this full circle of transmission where those who receive will eventually themselves transmit. So the goal, if I were to describe or define mentoring, it's when the receivers becomes the transmitter.
Now that you have received, it's time for you to transmit. We find this principle in First Thessalonians where Paul the apostle says, "You have received the word of God, not as the word of man, but as it really is the word of God." You've received it. A few verses later he says, "For from you the word of the Lord has sounded forth." See how it works? You received it, and then you transmitted it. When receivers become transmitters, the full cycle has been enacted, mentoring. By the way, you know that mentoring is a myth. I mean the man Mentor was actually a mythological figure.
It's where we get the term. There was a guy by the name of Homer, not Homer Simpson, Homer, the original Homer, the Greek poet who wrote a book called The Odyssey, in which King Odysseus left his son when he went out to war with a guy named---his son Telemachus, with a guy named Mentor. And mentor was to teach his son wisdom. That's the mythological figure. This is the real deal where Paul the apostle has mentored, trained, imparted wisdom, infused truth into young Timothy who has received it, and now he is being challenged to be a transmitter.
Second Timothy chapter 2 verse 2, that one verse, we're going to look at both, but that one verse is sort of a calling card of discipleship, always has been. Dawson Trotman who founded a group called the Navigators made much of this verse. In fact, Dawson Trotman would often challenge Christian leaders to commit this verse to memory. And one of the men he taught this to was a young man by the name of Billy Graham. And Billy Graham said of Second Timothy chapter 2 verse 2, "This is a mathematical formula for spreading the gospel and enlarging the church." And, boy, he's right.
It's one-on-one, it's you and me, it's eye to eye, it's voice to ear, transmitting truth and then see that generationally continue. You know, it's estimated if you could---let's say we had an unlimited budget, and we could have a stadium filled with people every single night. We had that kind of money to bring in bands, to have evangelism, and we could fill a stadium every single night. And every night of the week 1,000 people walked forward and gave their lives to Christ. At the end of one year, if you could do it every night, you would have 365,000 people saved. If you continued that for 35 years, you would have about 13 million people saved.
So just imagine if you had that kind of budget, Pastor, and you could do that kind of evangelism, and after 35 years you had 13 million people saved. Well, now let me tell you the bad news. If you could do that, at the end of 35 years you would be further behind the task of world evangelism than the day you started. You say, "Um, I don't understand, that's fuzzy math." No, it's not. With the exponential birthrate and growth of the population on planet earth percentage-wise you would be further behind the task of evangelism than the day you first started.
Now you're going, "That's depressing." No. It's encouraging, if you take this principle. Because here's the flip side: if you were the only Christian on earth, the only one living who knew Christ, and you said, "Lord, would you just help me to lead just one single person to Jesus in the next twelve months, just one." If God answered your prayer and after one year you led somebody to Jesus, and now there are two Christians on earth and you both partnered and prayed together, "Lord, help us to lead one more person to Christ in the next twelve months."
So after year one there are two Christians on earth, after year two there are four. You continue that, then there are eight, then there are sixteen, then thirty-two. Exponentially you will have won the world to Christ in a couple decades one-on-one, eye to eye, mouth to ear, mentor to mentee, a mathematical formula for spreading the church and growing the church. Well, I want to look with you at these verses. And I want to break them up with you since we only have two verses. I want to talk about raising up leadership, and I'm going to give you four ways to do it according to these verses. Four ways to do it, and they're quite simple, really. First, be engaging. You've got to engage somebody else. You got to get into their lives.
Notice what he says, "You," Paul writing to Timothy, "You therefore, my son"---stop right there. Paul calls Timothy his son, and the Bible sees him as his "son in the faith." Paul was a father in the faith to Timothy. "You therefore, my son," it connotes that a relationship has been going on, and indeed it has, because Paul is the one who began that relationship. He engaged Timothy. You know the story that when Paul was on his first missionary journey and he went through Lystra there was a young man name Timothy. Timothy was led to Christ on Paul's first missionary journey.
And then Paul spoke into his life as Timothy followed Paul on his second missionary journey. And he listened to him and he sat under him and he grew under him, and he became what Paul calls my "son in the faith." Twenty-four times Paul in the New Testament mentions Timothy, and he's the only one, by the way, that Paul gives a very particular word in describing him. He says, "I have no one like-minded," like-minded, isopsuchos is the word, like-souled. "Our souls are on the same page. Man, we are at the same level. We connect. We have the same heart toward God and toward ministry. We are like-minded, my son in the faith."
And so, on the second missionary journey Paul went with him, Timothy went with Paul, they went together. On another occasion when a delegation went to Jerusalem to take that money that was collected for the church back home in Jerusalem from the Gentile churches, Timothy was a part of that group. Later on Paul sent Timothy to Ephesus to set things in order, to root out false teachers, and to train up elders in that place. So he really grew over time as a son in the faith. But what I want you to see here is that Paul was the one who engaged him, who led him to Christ, who trained him up, and who sent him out.
That's a leader. A leader is able to see the potential in somebody younger in the faith, though it might be raw and in its nascent stage, and say, "I want to work with that. I want to get behind that. I want to train that person and send them out. Question: Why did Paul do that? Answer: Because he had somebody do it for him named Barnabas. You remember that, how that it was Paul who was sort of, you know, shoot-from-the-hip kind of a guy, preaching the gospel in Damascus. Gets back to Jerusalem, he was radioactive.
The early church did not want to touch him until Barnabas came along and said, "I was with this guy. He preached boldly in the name of Jesus Christ in Damascus." And he stood in for him and stood up for him and integrated him because he saw something in this young rabbi from Tarsus. And so because he had that experience, he wants to share that experience with somebody else. "You therefore, my son," by the way, the word "you" is emphatic in this verse. It would be really saying, "Hey, you," or "As for you," or if you're from New York, "I'm talkin' to you." [laughter] It's emphatic.
He's isolating him, "you," "as for you," "in contrast to others." "You, my son." I think it's important that we understand why that is. And you'll notice the word "therefore" is there, which takes us back to the previous thought. And there's a couple of reasons. One's a negative reason; one's a positive reason. The negative reason is that it seems that Timothy, young Timothy, this one being trained by Paul was faltering a little bit in his walk. You remember back in chapter 1, verse 6, he says, "I'm reminding you to stir up the gift that is in you." Could be that he was doubting his own giftedness.
Moreover he was probably at this point a little bit fearful of ministry. Chapter 1, verse 7, "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind." Not only that, but he was becoming, perhaps, a little bit ashamed of his ministry. Look at verse 8 of chapter 1. "Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner." "You, Timothy, as for you, don't be like that. Don't follow the path of Phygellus and Hermongenes," as we talked about yesterday. "You're different. You have a godlily heritage and upbringing," chapter 1, verse 5, "your grandmother Lois, your mom Eunice."
"Ministry has been committed to you; hands have been laid on you." Now, the reason Paul can speak like this to Timothy and isolate him like this is simple: he's earned the right, he's engaged him. "Yup, Eunice might be your mom in the flesh, but I am your father in the faith. And because I am our father in the faith, I have the right to speak to you this way." There's this relationship. He experienced it from Barnabas, he's passing it on to Timothy. Howard Hendricks said, "Every disciple needs three relationships."
Number one, he needs a relationship of having a Barnabas, and a Paul, and a Timothy. "A 'Paul,' somebody who can come along and mentor him and challenge him. A 'Barnabas,' somebody who can come alongside of him and encourage him. And a 'Timothy,' to whom he can pour his life into." So it happened for Paul, now Paul is saying, "Timothy, I'm doing that to you." So number one, be engaging, engage somebody. Dare to look around to see who you can pour your life into.
Second principle, be encouraging. Once you engage that person, be a source, a life-long source of encouragement to that person. For he says, "You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus." Like Barnabas who encouraged him, he is also pouring encouragement into Timothy who is drifting toward weakness. I find it interesting, I believe that if Timothy were here among us, we would think he's not too impressive. He had stomach problems, you know. He was weak physically. Paul had to tell him, "You better take a little wine for your stomach. You need some medical help." We know that he was emotional because in chapter 1, Paul alludes to the fact that he broke down and cried at their last meeting together.
So, he has some physical problems, he's got some emotional things going on, and now he's doubting and he's drifting. And to this young man, in an encouraging tone, I believe, he says, "Timothy, be strong. Be strong." Now, that brings to our minds, especially as pastors, the others times we read that phrase in Scripture, right? Like in Joshua chapter 1 when the Lord said to Joshua, "Be strong and be very courageous." And then the people of Israel echo that to him, and they said, "Yeah, just do whatever God wants you to do. You be strong, you be courageous, and we'll follow you."
Or the time when King David said to his son Solomon when David was on his deathbed, "Solomon, be strong and show yourself a man." And so to young Timothy, the one he has engaged, he now encourages, "Timothy, be strong." But notice what he's to be strong in: "grace." "Be strong in the grace . . . " If it were us, we might say, "You know, Timothy, you're a little bit too emotional. You could strengthen that area of your life. You've got some physical issues. I'm sort of tired of hearing about these things all the time. Would you just buck up and be strong?"
He says, "Timothy, be strong in God's grace." Perhaps I'm speaking to some who have Timothy tendencies. You doubt, you faltered, you struggled. Understand something: you don't deserve ministry, it's God's grace to you. Be strong in that. Don't be strong because you're talented, you're gifted. Don't be strong in authority, your own authority. Just be good at, strong in the grace of God. In fact, the way this is written in the original, it's in the continual tense and the passive voice. So it would be translated this way: "As for you, Timothy, keep on, continually be strengthened."
It's not that you are strong in yourself, you are being strengthened from an outside source, and the outside source is God's grace. So just like you didn't deserve salvation, you don't deserve service, but it's a gift of God. It's part of his grace. Be strong in that. In other words, you're feeling weak, you can be strong, not in your disposition, but in this outside source of God's grace given to you. Just like he saved you, God will strengthen you for service---same idea. Be strong in grace.
I've seen men that would otherwise be discarded by many churches, cast away: "Well, they've done this. They've committed that. They're not worth getting behind any longer." They faltered, they've been rejected, but you know what? The right person, the right circumstances, the right kind of encouragement could make that person bloom again. Here's an old saying: "A pat on the back, though it's only a few vertebrae removed from a kick in the pants, is miles ahead in results." Same part of the anatomy, just a few inches different, pat on the back.
Come alongside in encouragement. Jesus did it to Peter. Talk about somebody who faltered. Peter denied Jesus three times. And we know the story, we preach the story. "Peter, do you love me?" "Yes." Here it is, dude: "Feed my sheep. I'm entrusting to you what I value the most, what I have died for, my sheep. I'm entrusting them to you, even though you have blown it." That's encouragement. Be engaging. Be encouraging. You know, we're leaders. You know, a leader has to have followers or he's not a leader. One of the best ways to get followers is encourage people. You'll get a lot of them.
An article was written some years ago in Newsweek magazine by Deborah Shouse, I just thought it was musing enough I want to share it with you: "When I was growing up, I envied Sally Culver," she writes. "Though she was five years younger, she had somehow managed to get herself a fan club. It began one summer evening, when Mrs. Culver brought her one-year-old daughter, Sally, to our home. 'I want to show you the most remarkable thing,' Mrs. Culver told my mother. She set the baby down on the driveway, and Sally, diaper rustling, took one step. 'Bravo!' Mrs. Culver said, clapping.
"'Wasn't that just marvelous?' she asked, turning to me. I was standing back, my jump rope in hand, wondering why anyone would make a big deal over walking. 'Weren't her legs just the straightest things you've ever seen?' Mrs. Culver gushed to my mother. 'Her posture is exceptional,' my mother said. I took a breath and stood up straighter. My mother didn't notice. Sally took two steps before she plopped down. Again, applause. This time my mother joined in. I untangled my rope and jumped ten times in a row without missing once. No one noticed. My mother was too busy clapping and cheering for Sally. It was my first experience with the power of applause."
I'm in the ministry because of the power of applause. I wouldn't be in the ministry were it not for the power of applause, were it not for somebody saying, "I think you could do this." One of my first experiences in teaching a Bible study, I was going to college, and a friend of mine, a mentor of mine, Chuck Smith's brother Paul, asked me to do his Sunday evening Bible study in where he was living in California. So I came and I was so nervous. I prepared all week, when I had some time. And I was going to speak to a real church at a Sunday evening service.
Now, it was the smallest service he had, so he thought, you know, smallest risk factor. So Skip does the Sunday night. I did Jonah, chapter 1. And the reason he asked me to come, he said, "I'm going to be going out of town. I won't be here. Would you fill in for me?" I said nervously, "Sure." I'm teaching Jonah, chapter 1, I'm halfway through chapter 1, in walks the pastor, and sits down, and folds his arms, and stares directly at me. I finished up, went to him with a gulp, and said, "I thought you were traveling." He said, "I was. I got back in time, though, to hear half your message."
And I'm going, "Oh, no. Here it is. Hammers going to drop right now." And this is what he said to me, "You finished Jonah, chapter 1, you would do a disservice to my congregation if you didn't do chapter 2 next week." [laughter] That's how he put it. It was his way of applause, of clapping, of saying, "Go for it! It was a good start. It was just a start, but keep going." Be engaging. Be encouraging. You might have heard this: "Flatter me, and I may not believe you. Criticize me, and I may not like you. Ignore me, and I may not forgive you. Encourage me, and I will never forget you."
Paul never forgot what happened with him and Barnabas in Jerusalem. And I believe Timothy would never forget the way Paul got him into ministry. Be engaging. Be encouraging. Number three, be enlightening, be enlightening. Verse 2, the principle is there: "The things that you have heard from me"---stop there. "The things that you have heard from me." Timothy was enlightened by the things that he heard from Paul. Think of all the Bible studies Timothy got to hear Paul preach. Think of the synagogues he got to sit in and observe, back and forth the dialogue, the argument between rabbi and Rabbi Paul.
Think of the downtime, all the conversations they have over meals, the fun times, the travel times. Timothy was there on the second missionary journey when Paul got the call of God in Troas to go to Macedonia. He followed Paul to Macedonia, to Philippi, when Paul was put in prison. Timothy was is there in Thessalonica when that riot broke out. He was in Corinth. All of those experiences Timothy got to hear and got to watch and observe how Paul handled difficulty. That was part of mentoring process. It was enlightening for him. He learned truth because of it. It shaped his doctrine. It shaped his worldview, his belief system.
"The things that you have heard from me." Go back to chapter 1 and look at verse 13, because it puts it all together: "Hold fast the pattern of sound words," as David shared with us yesterday, "which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. That good thing which was committed to you," the truths that you heard, "keep by the Holy Spirit who dwells in us." In Philippians, chapter 4, Paul writes, "The things which you have learned and received and heard and saw in me"---all of that together is the enlightening part.
You've heard this classic saying of ministry, I know you have: "The ministry isn't taught as much as it's caught." Right? I mean, there are places and there is room for formal teaching and learning and doctrinal classes. I take a group of people every year or every two years and I work with them and I train them. And I give them formal teaching on Bible study, and on preparing messages, and all that stuff. But there's a lot more than just the formal training and teaching and hearing a sermon. It's the personal conversations, it's the body language, it's the personality, it's the enthusiasm, it's the twinkle in the eye---all of that package is the enlightening part.
I'll be honest and say that one of my favorite parts of pastors' conferences isn't listening to guys like me talk, my favorite part is the in-between times, and I get to hear what somebody is doing in a certain place, or what the Lord is blessing them with, or what the person has been taught. Those kinds of conversations are so enriching, invigorating, inspiring. The formal teaching is good and is needed, but it's more than that, it is the entire package. So, here is Paul still training Timothy. Paul knows that his days are numbered, so he's numbering his days according to wisdom and imparting still to Timothy these truths.
What a good leader. What a good leader. A leader is somebody who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way. He knows the way. Paul knew the way. He knew doctrine. He laid that foundation. He went that way and then he showed others how to do it. So Paul taught publicly, he conversed privately, he shared deliberately, he modeled visibly---all of that is included in "the things that you have heard from me." There seems to be a six-part process when you take somebody under your wing and you train them, you mentor them.
Six steps: number one, I do it; number two, I do it, you watch; number three, I do it, you help; number four, you do it, I help; number five, you do it, I watch; and number six, you do it. That's the process. Those steps are deliberate steps that are taken in that process, which brings us to the fourth and final and really the heart of the passage in verse 2. And here's the fourth principle: be enlisting, be enlisting. Enlist somebody else and get them to follow that process. Be engaging, be encouraging, be enlightening, but be enlisting.
He says, "The things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also." See, now it's full circle. Timothy was the mentee to Paul the mentor. Timothy was the student to Paul the teacher. But now Paul is saying, "I want you to be the teacher. I want you to be the mentor. I want you to be the torchbearer and take this on to the next generation." There's a lot of debate about plagiarism in the Christian world these days. You know, "You quoted this person and you didn't give him attribution."
You know, what's interesting to me is Paul says, "Take it all, man. Steal it all from me. Everything I've given to you, give it away. You don't have to quote me on this, or I'll sue you, Timothy, if you do." [laughter] There's a great old story about Charles Spurgeon who was listening to a sermon some young man was preaching, and it was point for point one of his own sermons. He was sitting next to one of his elders who was listening to this, and he's going, "Oh, my goodness, Mr. Spurgeon, he stole your message word for word, point for point." Spurgeon admitted, "What I didn't tell my elder is where I stole it from before he heard it." [laughter].
Give it away. "You've heard it from me, I want you to replicate that in other people." There's four generations, by the way, notice, that are mentioned here. There's Paul, there's Timothy, there's "faithful men," and there's "others also." That's four generations of teaching. Paul was a faithful man who found a faithful man in Timothy, who tells Timothy to find faithful men who will also find other faithful men. The torch gets passed. By the way, according to church history Timothy did exactly what Paul said.
Irenaeus the church historian tells us Timothy was the pastor in Ephesus, but he found a guy named Anacletus that he trained up and put him in charge. Anacletus trained up a young man by the name of Clement who was in charge. And just as Paul had done to Timothy, Timothy did to other leaders in the church. And then here we are. We are just a link in a long chain that goes all the way back to Jesus Christ, who passed the torch to his disciples, and his disciples passed it on to others, and we're just part of that chain. Isn't it great to be one link in that chain?
But, you know, you've probably heard it said that Christianity is always one generation away from extinction, one gen---all it takes is one generation to drop the ball. Now God won't let that happen. One generation away from extinction. Solution? Transmit to receivers and train receivers to become transmitters. You've heard of the 80-20 rule, right? It happens in a church: 20 percent of the people do 80 percent of the work. You know why that is? Because the 20 percent won't train anybody else. That's part of the problem.
They won't give away ministry to other people. They won't give responsibilities. Sometimes it's pride: "I want to have all the gifts and hog them all so people know how gifted I am." [laughter] Okay, you'll be dead by the time you're forty-eight, instead of passing it on. "Faithful men," he says, find faithful men. I know, I can hear it, I can hear wheels turning, saying, "That's the problem. I just can't find faithful men." Hey, you were pretty raw when you started. [laughter] "Yeah, but that was different." Uh-uh, no. A faithful man is a man who's full of faith.
Find a man full of faith, raw, but train that man to be a faithful man. Train the man of faith to be a faithful man, trustworthy, dependable person. And that comes by raising up leaders. It's a pretty simple process. You simply identify giftedness. It could be something that you see in that person, this hunger, this thirst, this drive, this desire. They're just so rough around the edges, but they got the---they got the look, the tiger eye. Identify the giftedness. Number two, hone that giftedness. That's this process.
You can help shave off the rough edges or encourage a person in one area over another one. So identify the giftedness. Hone the giftedness. Three, release them into ministry. And number four, don't forget this: evaluate. If you send them, evaluate them. Paul is still writing to Timothy. He is still in his life. It's not like Timothy came to a place and said, "Well, Paul, you were a good mentor in my early days, but I don't need you any longer, I've got other people around me now." Paul was always able to speak into his life. So you evaluate.
I know you probably heard that great old John Wesley saying that says, "Give me three hundred men who fear nothing but God, and hate nothing but sin, and are determined to know nothing among them except Christ, and I will set the world on fire." You ever read that or heard that? "I just need three hundred men." I remember reading it going, "Three hundred men? Wow!" Hey, you know what? Forget the three hundred men, look for three men, or one guy. Start there and train them and release them. And as Dawson Trotman and Billy Graham said, that's God formula, mathematical formula for changing the world and expanding the church.
So, so let's not spend too much time on the wrong end of ministry, if you know what I mean. And the solution is look into the fresh, young faces of potential leaders and encourage them. Engaging them, encourage them, enlighten them, and enlist them to do the same. Father, we thank you for this glorious ministry that has been committed to us, not because we're great in any capacity at all. For we know what the Bible says, it speaks about us directly when Paul said, "God has chosen the foolish things of this world to confound the wise and those things that are weak."
And those people and those things the world would cast away, you have deliberately chosen to show your glory through. And when we think of that statement and that list, we find ourselves written in it. That's us, "foolish things." Do your work, Lord that Jesus might be magnified and be made famous in our communities. It's for his sake we pray, amen.