#358 Timothy: Establishing Healthy Friendships

September 20, 2023

We have already seen several factors that helped Timothy grow in his leadership capacity. He was hungry to learn, he paid the price of leadership, he learned the Word and how to think and reflect. Timothy left hindrances behind and learned self-control as he became a role model. In this issue we focus on another factor that helped make Timothy an effective leader—he established healthy friendships. Consider these verses:

2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people (2 Timothy 3:2–5, NIV).

To Timothy my true son in the faith: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord (1 Timothy 1:2).

Do your best to get here before winter. Eubulus greets you, and so do Pudens, Linus, Claudia and all the brothers and sisters (2 Timothy 4:21).

These verses indicate that Timothy succeeded in establishing relationships that were healthy and beneficial to him and to the others involved. Serving leaders seek to act in the same way to develop healthy relationships.

Timothy’s healthy friendships resulted from choosing.

Paul reminds Timothy that there are many people who would not be healthy friends. He cautions Timothy strongly, “Have nothing to do with such people.” Timothy learned to choose friends well. He understood that the choices he made in his relationships would either strengthen or undermine his leadership.

Many leaders don’t give careful thought to their choice of friends. They might choose friends based on perceived advantages or how the friendships can benefit them. Or they may simply allow relationships to develop without conscious thought. But serving leaders think carefully about those with whom they spend time. While they seek to love and serve everyone, they choose their friendships deliberately and thoughtfully.

Timothy’s healthy friendships required commitment.

 Paul didn’t have any biological children but called Timothy his “true son.” How did Timothy earn this endearing position with Paul? He had shown his loyalty and faithfulness to Paul for years, demonstrating his commitment to their relationship. As he paid the price of a healthy friendship with Paul, he learned how to have healthy relationships with others.

Some leaders want the benefits of healthy relationships but are not willing to invest the time, energy and commitment that is required. Serving leaders recognize that healthy friendships are costly but worth the investment. They focus on loving and serving well and see their commitment rewarded with healthy friendships.

Timothy’s healthy friendships released companionship.

When Paul was in prison and awaiting martyrdom, he summoned his faithful friend Timothy for a last farewell indicating the depth of their friendship. And he conveyed greetings from many others who loved Timothy deeply. After years of carefully selecting the right friendships and investing deeply in them, Timothy—and his friends—reaped the reward of genuine companionship, something every person longs to achieve.

Many leaders come to the end of their lives and tragically discover that they really don’t have any committed companions that will be with them. Serving leaders, like Timothy, choose their friends carefully, nurture those relationships diligently and have some of the richest relationships possible as a result.

For further reflection and discussion:

  • How would I describe “healthy” and “unhealthy” friendship?
  • As I reflect on my current relationships how satisfied am I at the health of these relationships? What, if anything, do I need to change?
  • What one relationship can I focus on in the coming month to strengthen and how will I invest deliberately in this friendship?
  • Reflect on those you lead. What can I do to encourage them to develop healthy friendships?        
  • In addition to the verses we used in this issue, consider the following: 1 Timothy 4:6-7; 5:1-2, 21, 24-25; 6:20-21; 2 Timothy 1:2, 15-18; 2:16-18; and 4:9-12. What additional insights do you find from these verses about how Timothy cultivated healthy relationships and the results of his actions?

Until next time, yours on the journey,

Jon Byler

In the next issue, we’ll look at how Timothy related to different generations. In this series we’ve been looking at the life of Timothy. It’s a great time to read through the two books in the Bible with his name, written to him by Paul. As you read, reflect on what Timothy did to grow as a leader and how his actions apply to your own growth.

#357 Timothy: Becoming a Role Model

September 6, 2023

Timothy learned early that leading himself came before leading others. Before he called others to follow, he had to model the way. Consider these verses:

Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives tales; rather, train yourself to be godly” (1 Timothy 4:7, NIV).

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity (1 Timothy 4:12).

15Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. 16Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers (1 Timothy 4:15–16).

In this chapter Paul exhorted Timothy to be a role model to those he was leading, to “set an example” to others. Serving leaders acknowledge that leadership is an inside job. Before serving leaders tell others they show them what it looks like. As Timothy followed Paul’s instructions he became a model in several significant ways.

Timothy modeled discipline.

Paul instructed Timothy, “train yourself to be godly.” To lead others Timothy needed to be the right kind of person—a godly man. This would not happen without focus and discipline.   Athletes training for their sport leaders need to exercise discipline. The discipline of training can be tiresome and difficult. There are many days that any athlete would prefer to stay in bed rather than do the necessary training.  

Many leaders want to be seen as great leaders, but they aren’t willing to pay the daily price of discipline that is required to become great. They look for shortcuts to help them lead others without improving themselves. Serving leaders acknowledge that discipline is the price of becoming a role model. They are willing to pay the price before they attempt to lead.  They discipline themselves to be the right kind of person before they seek to lead others.

Timothy modeled distinction.

Paul encouraged Timothy to overcome the challenge of being a young leader by setting an example for others. Timothy could not change his age, but he could work towards becoming the most mature young person around. He would distinguish himself from the crowd of others his age by growing in “speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.”  Timothy modeled distinction, standing out from the crowd by rising above the crowd.

Many leaders want to be elevated because of their position and authority. Serving leaders seek to be the best version of themselves that they can be at whatever age they are. As they do so they become more mature than their peers and serve others as a model of distinction.

Timothy modeled diligence.

Paul called Timothy to diligence “so that everyone may see your progress.”  Timothy learned that growth takes diligence. While it was good to be an exemplary young leader he needed to make continual progress that was obvious to those watching his life.   

Many leaders stop growing when they think they are good enough to get the job done. But serving leaders are diligent to keep growing in ways that become a model to those around them.

For further reflection and discussion:

  • What area of my life is currently not a good model to others? What do I need to change this week to start improving in that area?
  • Do I model a continuous improvement in my life and leadership that is obvious to those around me? If not, what do I need to change?
  • Reflect on those you lead. What can I do to encourage them to become models to those around them? In what ways can I affirm and encourage those who are currently role models?       
  • In addition to the verses we used in this issue, consider the following: 1 Timothy 4:6; 2 Timothy 1:13-14; and 2 Timothy 2:16, 22. What additional insights do you find from these verses about how Timothy was called to be a role model and specific areas in which he was to show others the way.

Until next time, yours on the journey,

Jon Byler

In the next issue, we’ll examine how Timothy developed good friendships.