Following God is not easy. There is something about having someone along the journey to encourage you to say, “If I can do it, you can do it.” That’s why having a group of people around you to inspire you to pursue God is so essential. God gives us pastors, teachers, apostles, prophets and evangelists to do this (Ephesians 4:11). God gives us a brotherhood/sisterhood (1 Peter 2:17) in the faith to give us friends, accountability and relationships where we can be vulnerable and honest.
While these are all necessary and as we go along the journey of faith we will acquire these relationships and they will be sent by God for reason and most for a season. God gives us moments of spiritual significance in these relationships: some for a moment, some for season and some for a lifetime. The relationship that seems to have a special significance in Scripture that is unique to Scripture is the relationship of Paul and Timothy.
Paul makes a distinction about his relationship with Timothy: you have a lot of spiritual encouragement but a relationship that is unique in the Bible is the relationship of being a “son in the faith” to a “father in the faith.” We talked about this in yesterday’s post about Timothy being a son to Paul because of the Gospel. Paul continues to reference Timothy as a son throughout the Bible,
“Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel.“ Philippians 2:21
There is no doubt that Paul and Timothy have a relationship that is worth investigating. But how does sonship look in Scripture? Here’s a brief overview of Timothy and his sonship in the Bible:
+ Timothy is mentioned 6 times in the book of Acts as he continues to accompany Paul as he goes on mission with Paul planting churches, teaching people the Bible and planting churches plus there are 2 full letters/books of the Bible written specifically to him.
+ Timothy is a reminder of how to live like a true follower of Christ as in 1 Corinthians 4:17, “I have sent to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus.”
+ Timothy carries on the work of Paul when Paul is not present. 1 Corinthians 16:10
+ Timothy had a good reputation with others. Acts 16:2
+ Timothy preached the word with boldness. 2 Corinthians 1:19
+ Timothy represented Paul when he couldn’t be there. Philippians 2:19
+ Timothy prayed with Paul to see believers overcome and flourish. Colossianss 1:1; 9-12; 2 Thessalonians 1:1,11
+ Timothy is an encourager to Paul and the other churches. 1 Timothy 3:2, 6
+ Timothy is authentic as a “true son” in the faith. 1 Timothy 1:2
+ Timothy corrects people to bring them back to the truth. 1 Timothy 1:3
+ Timothy is not spiritually shallow but is a man of pursuit. 1 Timothy 6:11
+ Timothy was a man on fire. 2 Timothy 1:2, 6-7
+ Timothy guarded what Paul taught him and was diligent to not let go of what he learned from his father, “What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.” 2 Timothy 1:13-14
These are a few examples of what a son in the faith could look like. Timothy is one of the most standout characters of the bible. I truly believe he earned this because he chose to pursue a relationship with a man who was following Christ with everything he had.
Timothy’s mom was a believer but it seems his father wasn’t (Acts 16:1). I can relate to that as my own mother became a follower of Jesus when I was 16 and I surrendered my life to Christ when I was 22. But my father wasn’t a believer for many years. Like many young people in this generation that are spiritual orphans so to speak. There is a need for spiritual fathers in the faith because there is a longing in the hearts of many young believers to desire a pattern to follow.
So when I encountered great men of god in my life, I chose to follow the characteristics of Timothy in Scripture and the result are “fathers in the faith” who helped me know Christ but stay committed to Christ for the long haul. I have been a pastor for over 20+ years and just as Timothy was loyal, I have been loyal to the pastors and leaders in my life.
Brad Davis was the man who became my father in the faith by leading me to Jesus and helping me take my journey to follow Christ. Jerry Strandquist showed me how to be a pastor a healthy church and stay the course. Rob Ketterling became my father in the faith as he showed me how to be a leader and live out a life of leadership and faith. Mark Batterson became my father in the faith by showing me how to live a life of prayer and to stay on mission for God.
If you want good fathers in your life, then you need to be a good son. Following Christ as the disciples did with the rabbi and as Timothy did with Paul means giving them a high priority of relationship to serve and honor no matter what. That’s the difference between being a hireling and a true son (John 10:11-15). A hireling is a guy that’s in it for the paycheck or the reward. The second it gets tough or the second it gets difficult, they are gone. If the relationship doesn’t go the way they want it to they are gone. If they don’t get the amount of money they deserve, they are gone. They don’t appreciate correction and are not teachable.
Sons are different. Sons go the extra mile. Son’s own the burden. Sons feel the pain of their father. Sons shoulder the weight. Sons believe the best and fill in the blanks with the best intentions. Sons carry a sense of responsibility and urgency when they serve. A son is teachable and thinks of the bigger picture.
We lack spiritual fathers’ in our lives because we don’t know how to be a son.