#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.