This is the final example in this series on Mentoring in the New Testament. In this series, we have not looked at the mentoring of Jesus, because truthfully His example deserves a study all of it own. But finally, I would like to examine some mentoring lessons from the lives of Paul and Timothy.
Timothy was a young man with great potential whom Paul selected for mentoring on his second missionary journey through Derbe and Lystra (Acts 16:1-2). It is recorded that he was “well reported of.” And it is interesting that shortly after leaving his mentor (Barnabas), Paul finds a man (Timothy) to mentor himself.
From the time that Paul chose Timothy, he would work very closely with Paul and spend a great deal of time with him. He traveled with Paul and Silas on their missionary journeys to the Thessalonians and the Corinthians. At different times, he was sent by Paul to encourage the Thessalonians and the Corinthians.
Paul’s confidence in Timothy continued to grow to the degree that he said of Timothy in Philippians 2:19-24 “…I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state…as a son with the father, he hath served with me in the gospel…” Timothy would eventually become pastor of the church at Ephesus, and certainly the letters of 1 and 2 Timothy express how much Paul loved and cared for him.
So what lessons can we learn from the mentoring relationship of Paul and Timothy:
1. We should be selective in who we choose to mentor.
- Not everyone qualifies for this close mentoring relationship.
- We need to look for faithful, able men (2 Timothy 2:2).
- Paul chose Timothy based on what others said about him (well reported).
- Most of those in the Bible who were intensely mentored were selected by the mentor: Elijah chose Elisha, Jesus chose the disciples, Paul chose Timothy, and Barnabas chose Paul
2. Mentoring is a long process that involves a lot of time.
- Much of Timothy’s training and experience took place while he was with Paul.
- Paul continually gave Timothy more experience and opportunities to use his talents and abilities.
- Paul wrote letters to encourage and challenge Timothy in his ministry and personal life.
- Timothy became Paul’s trusted son in the faith because he spent so much time with Paul.
3. Mentoring is a committed relationship that is not just one-directional.
- When it was Paul’s time to die, he wrote his final letter to Timothy which shows how much he loved and respected Timothy.
- They were more than just coworkers, they were friends. They were family. They were like father and son.
- To get the maximum benefit of mentoring, both parties, the mentor and the one being mentored, must open their hearts to the other, love the other, and be deeply committed to one another.