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2 TIMOTHY 2:1-2 (ESV)
“You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.”
INVESTING IN OTHERS
Before we know it, our eldest son will be getting his learner’s permit and start taking the steps toward acquiring a driver’s license. He’ll likely have to read a manual and take a class about driving. However, as you know, printed materials and classes are not enough to prepare a new driver for safely maneuvering traffic. He’ll need significant time behind the wheel with a more experienced driver patiently giving him advice from the passenger’s seat. (My wife and I will have to draw straws for this.)
Learning how to drive a vehicle is a form of earthly disciple-making. It requires intentional instruction by a more experienced driver for the sake of teaching safe driving.
Now just imagine that our son found a short-cut to acquiring a legal driver’s license. No classes. No guided discussions while in traffic. Instead, he was able to take off on his own without the rigor of behind-the-wheel driving instruction. He would have some good head-knowledge, but be dangerously unprepared.
When it comes to the faith formation of younger people in the church or in our families, it can be tempting to take a ‘hands-off’ approach. We can easily assume that attending a worship service, group study or class is sufficient for them to learn how to follow Jesus through all of life’s highs and lows. But this would leave them dangerously unprepared.
Now, please don’t misunderstand the point. Attendance in worship is very important for the spiritual life of the Christian and should not be neglected (Heb. 10:25). Bible study groups are crucial too. These are the places where Christians grow together in faith, love and unity of the Spirit. However, there is much more to be learned about following Jesus than what can be covered in a class in a brief period of time.
Practical disciple-making requires intentional time together, like what Paul gave to Timothy over the course of many years. Timothy had observed Paul’s teaching AND his conduct (2 Tim. 3:10) throughout much of Paul’s life. He witnessed his mentor be the subject of scorn, torture and imprisonment. Yet, Paul’s faith in Jesus and commitment to making disciples in various cities remained steadfast.
In 2 Timothy 2, Paul encouraged Timothy to pass along this way of life to others by investing in small number of faithful men. It’s not an efficient process, but it is Biblical and exactly how Jesus led in His public ministry.
Faith grows to maturity by learning and observing the conduct of more mature believers. This is then applied by the power of the Holy Spirit in a way which is easily reproduced. Effective disciple-making doesn’t have any short-cuts, in much the same way that safe drivers cannot be formed overnight. Therefore, if we want to impact the world for Jesus, we need to consider how we are spending time with those who are spiritually younger.
What does this look like for you?
Lord, help us to learn from Paul’s example and invest in the spiritual lives of those in our families, church and community. Through Jesus, amen!