And don’t let anyone put you down because you’re young. Teach believers with your life: by word, by demeanor, by love, by faith, by integrity. Stay at your post reading Scripture, giving counsel, teaching. And that special gift of ministry you were given when the leaders of the church laid hands on you and prayed—keep that dusted off and in use.
Cultivate these things. Immerse yourself in them. The people will all see you mature right before their eyes! Keep a firm grasp on both your character and your teaching. Don’t be diverted. Just keep at it. Both you and those who hear you will experience salvation. – 1 Timothy 4:12-16 (The Message)
I had the opportunity this past weekend to spend some time with my spiritual sons. I love when I get the chance to impart into the next generation. And even though the following was targeted towards young men, I believe that we can all apply these powerful principles into our lives. Timothy was being challenged to be an example. I think the same is true for anyone that is taking the time to read this as well. If you have people that look to you or follow you…then you know the responsibility of being an example!
“God never gives someone great ministry unless you have great destiny!” Timothy was that man! God had a huge calling in store for this man. God knew it and Paul knew it too! That’s why Paul took the time to write this letter. Timothy was pastoring the largest church at this time. While that might be pressure enough to handle, add to it the fact that he actually had people in his congregation who had seen Jesus (one example being the Apostle John). Talk about pressure! Most scholars believe that Timothy was 19 or in his early 20’s. History even tells us that there was a group of elders at the time that said they should make it a rule that someone shouldn’t be a pastor until they were 30 years old! Seemed like Timothy was definitely going through a lot at that time!
Paul challenged Timothy in the following areas: [Basically he was saying…this is how you shut their mouths, Be An Example!]
- Speech-What’s coming out of your mouth? Get rid of the stuff that leads to nowhere.
- Life-Set a covenant with your eyes. Don’t waste time! You’ll be a lot further if you don’t waste time.
- Love-Have a love that is different from that of the world.
- Faith-Trust God even when it’s hard. God will fashion us through pain!
- Purity-There’s a story of a man who was cleaning a huge window. When he was almost done, everything was clean except for one spot. He added more soap, scrubbed harder and did all he could to get ride of that spot. A man a little ways away came up to the man and said, “the spots on the inside.” That’s exactly what God might be telling you today…”the spots on the inside.” There are some things that man can’t see but God can see everything.
I think Timothy had to be challenged after hearing this from his spiritual father. I know I’m challenged every time I get around my spiritual father. I really take the time to think about what he tells me. I meditate on it, I pray about it and I even try to put it to action. That’s the same thing that Paul was doing with Timothy. He was provoking him to make him do something about it. The only way he was going to be able to silence his critics, was to be an example! Most scholars believe that Timothy was single at this time too. So if you’re reading this…it doesn’t matter your age, your relationship status, whether people see you as a leader or not…if you take the time to apply these truths to your life you’ll be an example worth following.
The choices you make will determine what you’ll be and what you’ll have!