Timidity in Timothy

Some leaders are brash and bombastic, others are retiring and timid. Personalities vary, cultural backgrounds vary, no two leaders are the same. The contrast is seen not only in current acquaintances, but in the pages of Scripture.

The contrast between Paul and Timothy seems huge at first glance. Paul appears fearless, bold, aggressive, a leader of leaders, who was decisive, visionary and extroverted. Timothy appears fearful, unconfident, passive, a leader needing to be led, at times indecisive, stationary and introverted.  

Perhaps I’ve overstated my observations but the text of Acts and 1 & 2 Timothy seem to support these observations.  In 2 Timothy 1:7 as Paul concludes this opening paragraph of the body of the letter, he reminds his younger colleague – “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.”

Paul, in this personal correspondence, had observed timidity in Timothy. Timidity and fear may be consuming and restrict leaders in their role.  How should these personality ‘quirks’ be dealt with properly?

1. Recognize that they are not from God. God is not about paralyzing personalities.  Jesus promised that those who trust Him would have life, abundant life, to the full. He, the Good Shepherd, affirmed this in John 10:10b “…I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

2. Recognize that God has supplied us with the resources we need to lead, like Timothy, namely power, love and self-discipline. 

Ever experienced a power outage? Not an electricity issue but a shortage of spiritual resources.  Peter notes in his letter, “God’s divine power has given us everything we need….” Sounds abundantly adequate, doesn’t it? Possessing the Spirit of God we have access to power we would never experience in our own strength.

Ever lacked love for God or others? The 613 Old Testament commandments are reduced to 10 and ultimately to 2 as Jesus is queried about the greatest in the list of demands.  Love God completely. Love others as your love yourself.  He reminded his early followers that all the Law and Prophets may be summarized in these two all-encompassing commands. God models love, perfect love that the world knows nothing of, as He sends His Son to be its Saviour.  Timothy may rest assured that God will resource him with love, joy, peace, etc – the fruit of the Spirit’s work in the heart of genuine believers.

Ever felt out of control as a leader? God has supplied us with a calm, self-control, in contrast to the panic-stricken confusion which may well describe some organizations. 

What happened to Timothy? If he read, understood, believed and acted upon what his mentor was writing, he would experience a radical personality change.  The ultimate goal for Timothy was not to become like Paul, but to become like the Lord Jesus Christ, the most balanced leader this world has ever encountered. Those of us,  called to lead today, have access to the same Spirit of God who longs to reshape our lives to make us less like ourselves and more like the Saviour.

I think I’ll be humming More, more about Jesus, as I reflect on this further.  Care to join me?

“More, more about Jesus, More, more about Jesus, More of his saving fullness see, More of His love, who died for me….”

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