“I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so I may be cheered by news of you. I have no one like him, who will be genuinely anxious for your welfare. They all look after their own interest, not those of Jesus Christ. But Timothy’s worth you know, how as a son with a father he has served with me in the gospel. I hope therefore to send him just as soon as I see how it will go with me” (Phil. 2:19-23).
Paul not only loved God—he loved people. He looked for those he could invest in. When he saw the character of a young Timothy on his first missionary journey, he made arrangements for Timothy to travel with him. Bingo! Partners for life.
At the end of Paul’s journey on earth, in a dark and damp prison accompanied only by Luke, he wrote Timothy his last letter and clearly his most emotional one. He knew death was close: “I am already on the point of being sacrificed; the time of my departure has come” (2 Tim. 4:6). He said to Timothy, “Do your best to come to me soon” (9), adding a few verses later to “come before winter” (21).
The veteran apostle did not fade out after his retirement dinner. He was relational to the max. At the end of his letter to the Christians in Rome, he referenced no less that twenty-nine people, including ten women, who had meant a great deal to this outstanding apostle who never took solo flights. He died pouring himself out for God and into people. We don’t know if Timothy arrived in time to see the man who made him what he was. It must have moved him that Paul’s final words were penned for him. He owed his life, mission, and destiny to this great missionary, and Timothy responded by living selflessly, giving himself away to others as his mentor had done for him.
Timothy learned life-changing truths from Paul:
- We are servants and we live for others. We resist a victim mentality.
- When we suffer, we do it joyfully. It is not about us, even in pain.
I thank God for those who believed in me and taught me the value of investing in others, especially my parents and Larry Christenson. Karen and I have had the joy for the last ten years of investing in young adults. We are grateful that our children are hearing the same message: “You are not here for yourself. Go low and pour out your life for others.” If we are going to be anxious, let’s be anxious for others as Timothy was (Phil. 2:20). Why waste anxiety on ourselves?
The relationships of Paul the father were personal, not professional. He dug into the lives of friends with probing questions, in-your-face admonitions, and shocking vulnerability. That is how a mentor lives. Seniors: consider doing like the apostle, and if God gives you strength, hit the tape running. The final great awakening, which I believe we are entering into now, will feature the hearts of fathers being connected to young ones like Timothy. What could be more rewarding?!