First and Second Timothy and Titus are often referred to as ‘The Pastoral Epistles.’ Technically, Paul is an apostle, and the role of Titus and Timothy in this transitional time of leadership functions ‘pastorally’ but exceeds the boundaries of a local congregation. Pastors, typically, do not appoint elders in every town within the country they serve, as Titus is instructed in 1:5. We typically speak of ‘Pastor _______’ as though it were a title, which it never is in the pages of the New Testament–but I digress.
2 Timothy is clearly Paul’s final letter to a younger leader who will carry the mantle of leadership into the next generation. What does he command? How does he encourage? What principles does he leave the church in this ‘mentoring manual?’
Mentoring is modeling in person and principle the priorities for those being mentored. Is that a helpful definition? It is at least workable. It is setting an example and finding ways to engage those you are ‘mentoring’ in matters of life and doctrine. In 1 Timothy 4:16, Paul’s first letter to his younger associate, he explicitly urges, “Watch your life and doctrine closely.” Lifestyle choices and doctrinal convictions are two broad areas of exploration and application.
Since we’ve launched into another academic year at Heritage College & Theological Seminary, I’ve been reflecting carefully on the role of mentoring as we come alongside current and future leaders for the ministry of the gospel. I’m amazed at the number of informal and formal conversations with leaders of all ages that I am privileged to be a part of as I share in the process of formation.
Let’s tackle 2 Timothy and explore principles worth pressing into the lives of those of us for whom character and convictions matter.
1:1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, according to the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus,”
In typical first century style, Paul identifies himself as the author of this letter. His authority is reflected in his role to which Jesus Christ has called him. He is an apostle, one of 4 roles designed by Christ for the evangelism and edification ministries by which sinners become saints. In Ephesians 4, another letter penned by Paul, he writes of the gift of apostles, prophets, evangelists and pastor-teachers, which Christ has given.
His specific role is apostolic. He is a foundation layer (Ephesians 2:20) and is guiding the local assemblies of believers to fasten their faith firmly in Jesus Christ. He preaches Christ. He challenges believers to grow in Christ. He unpacks (e.g. Colossians) the wonders of who Christ is and what He has done. The reality is–Christianity is CHRIST. A Christless doctrine is no doctrine at all. A Christless life may be busy but lacks the central purpose for which it was designed.
Paul is living. He is alive in Christ. God has offered the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus, and Paul has received this amazing gift, the gift too wonderful for words to describe (2 Corinthians 9:15).
How does this relate to mentoring?
Let’s explore our relationship with Christ. Let’s share our experience of conversion. Let’s examine our calling in the will of God–the will Paul describes to the Romans (Romans 12:1,2) as good, acceptable and perfect–though not necessarily easy! Conversion and Calling are two key topics to investigate not only with leaders but with all who claim to be followers of The Way, The Truth and The Life–Jesus, who is called the Christ.