“To Timothy, my true son in the faith….”
These words penned by the apostle Paul reflect more than the address for his letter. They reflect a relationship. Today we read the words as part of the Holy Bible, but at the time, they were the words of God for a young man navigating the Christian life.
As Paul writes in both 1 Timothy 1:2 (above) and 2 Timothy 1:2, Timothy was more than a young friend. He was like a son to Paul. Timothy is first mentioned in Acts 16:1. The son of a devout Jewish woman and Greek (possibly pagan) man, Timothy was first discipled by his mother and grandmother (2 Timothy 1:5) before coming under the mentorship of Paul. In every account of him, Timothy is applauded for his dedication to the gospel, his teachable heart and his love for the Lord—qualities that Paul encouraged through his faithful discipleship.
You might be thinking, “I’m nothing like Paul! How could I disciple another person?” All it takes is a heart that loves God, knowledge of His Word and a passion to impart the same love and knowledge to another person. Here are three reasons to find a “Timothy” of your own.
1. We must know the truth to teach it.
Nothing cements the Word of God in your mind and heart like teaching it to others. Sharing God’s truth with another person requires studying it, understanding it and living it in our own lives. We want to pass on the truths that have influenced us the most, and in order to do that, we need to be regularly exposed to God through His Word and prayer.
Of course, we should endeavor to seek God whether or not we are discipling another person. But the discipleship relationship encourages a continual diet of God’s Word as we regularly share what we’ve learned with another person.
2. Investing in others takes our minds off ourselves.
We have been called to two actions: to love God and to love others. Quite often we get caught up in our own lives: our worries, priorities and responsibilities. These things can seem overwhelming at times and we might think we don’t have time to invest in another person. But you’d be surprised at how refreshing it is to pour into another woman, discussing the ways God has shown Himself to be powerful—and feeling hopeful to see Him move in powerful ways once again.
The surest way to battle loneliness, anxiety and many other issues of the heart is to reach out to others who feel those same emotions. As we share how God has been faithful to us, we can encourage other girls to put their trust in the Lord for their personal battles while gaining more perspective on our own.
3. We are called to share the gospel.
Jesus issued one last command before ascending to heaven: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20) This command isn’t just for pastors and Bible teachers. It’s for you and me as well.
Sharing the gospel doesn’t have to be complicated. It doesn’t always mean going door to door with tracts in hand or evangelizing on the street, though both of those methods can be effective. Discipleship is the process of sharing the gospel—then following through on it with continued spiritual mentorship. It means getting together for coffee or having a girls’ night and talking about the realities of life in light of God’s love. The initial process can be nerve-racking; you might feel “over spiritual” or like you’re directing the conversation to super-serious topics. But these are the things that make an impact, and Jesus knew you couldn’t do it alone—that’s why He said, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Discipling a younger or less spiritually mature girl might seem intimidating, but if you’ve walked through anything in your relationship with God, you have something to share. You have something that could encourage or equip her in her own walk. Your words have worth. So pray for an opportunity and a person to pour into—because that’s one prayer God answers with joy.