#360 Timothy: Learning to Teach

October 18, 2023

Timothy quickly learned that a significant part of leadership is passing on to others what he knew and believed. He learned to teach. Reflect on the following instructions from Paul to Timothy:

And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful (2 Timothy 2:24, NIV).

Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.  2 Timothy 4:2 (NIV)

1You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others (2 Timothy 2:1–2).

These are the things you are to teach and insist on (1 Timothy 6:2).

Timothy was a gifted teacher and served well by teaching well. All leaders, even those whose primary gifting is not teaching, can learn from him how to better serve those they lead through effective teaching.

Timothy learned to teach by defining his motive.   

Timothy first needed to learn to teach for the right reasons and with the right heart towards those he led. So, Paul instructs Timothy to check his motives for teaching. Some leaders teach to win an argument or prove their point. But Timothy learned that serving leaders are not to be “quarrelsome.” Some leaders teach with resentment towards those who know less than they do and are impatient with the learners. Timothy learned that serving leaders are not “resentful” and they have “great patience.” Serving leaders get their hearts in the right place before they open their mouths to teach.

Timothy learned to teach by determining his message.   

Timothy next learned to think critically about the content of his teaching. He learned from Paul to focus on “…the things you have heard me say…these are the things you are to teach.” Timothy learned that not every message is of equal importance. He learned to give careful thought to what he would teach. Some leaders teach whatever happens to be at the top of their mind in the moment. But serving leaders give careful thought to the content of their teaching and methodically share what is most important. Serving leaders focus their message on things that really matter for the organization, especially the vision, mission, and values.  

Timothy learned to teach by developing his methods.  

With the right motive and the correct message, Timothy also learned how to use effective methods as a teacher. He heard Paul insist that he be “able to teach” and to train those he served to “be qualified to teach others.” Timothy understood that effective teaching requires continual growth in learning what methods best serve the audience. Some teachers assume that it is the work of the audience to figure out what they are saying and what needs to be done in response. But serving leaders strive to use teaching methods that make the message crystal clear. They learn from their mistakes and adjust their style to serve those in the audience. They observe and learn from other communicators how to communicate effectively. And they ask for feedback from others to continually strengthen their teaching methods because they understand that teaching well is serving well.  

For further reflection and discussion:

  • How can I develop the ability to teach others in my own life? In the three areas we examined (motives, my message, and methods) where am I strongest? Weakest? When I examine my own heart and motive for teaching others, what do I discover? How carefully do I consider the content of what I teach others? What are the next steps for me to strengthen my ability to teach well?
  • Reflect on those you lead. What steps can I take this week to help them develop their own ability to teach others?      
  • In addition to the verses we used in this issue, consider the following: 1 Timothy 6:2-5; 2 Timothy 1:6, 13-14; and 2:14. What additional insights do you find from these verses about how Timothy learned to teach?         

In this series we have been looking at the life of Timothy. If you haven’t already this would be 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. 

Until next time, yours on the journey,

Jon Byler,

In the next issue, we’ll look at a final characteristic of Timothy’s leadership, how he learned to fight!

# 359 Timothy: Connecting Across Generations

October 4, 2023

One of the marks of Timothy’s great leadership was his ability to connect with people from different generations. Consider these instructions from Paul:

1Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, 2older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity (1 Timothy 5:1–2, 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).

 As Timothy followed these instructions he learned, even as a young leader, how to connect with and lead those who were older and those who were younger.

Timothy connected across generations by respecting consciously.

As Paul talked to Timothy about how to relate to other generations he used the analogy of a family. He challenged Timothy to treat the older generation like fathers and mothers, and younger persons like sisters and brothers. Healthy families treat parents with respect and care tenderly for those who are younger. Good families show conscious respect for the different generations.

Some leaders focus on the task that is to be done with no consideration of the person doing the task. They expect production and treat everyone by the same standard. Serving leaders learn to consciously respect and value those who are from other generations. They listen to and gain wisdom from those who are older and have more experience. They treat younger persons with gentleness as they learn and grow.

Timothy connected across generations by talking carefully.

Paul tells Timothy, “Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father.” Correction is one of the most difficult tasks in leadership and doing it with those who are from another generation adds complexity! Timothy learns to talk carefully by thinking of the older man as a father and reflecting on how he would address a problem with his father.

Leaders often rebuke or correct with little thought about the person receiving the correction. They see themselves as the boss and assume that others should change when they bring correction no matter how it is delivered. But serving leaders focus on the person as a human being with their own need to be valued and respected. They carefully adjust their correction by considering the age and specific needs of that individual.  

Timothy connected across generations by loving completely.

Paul challenged the young leader Timothy to be an example in many areas including love. Generational differences require greater effort to understand and appreciate. A heart of love is fundamental to bridge these gaps.  

Some leaders view love as a ‘soft’ leadership trait that has little value. But at the heart of serving leaders is a genuine care for others, a desire to see them succeed and thrive. Because they love, serving leaders seek to understand and appreciate those from different generations, both those who are older and those who are younger. They listen and ask questions to gain understanding and then adjust their leadership to meet the needs of those they serve. As they exercise effective leadership they build strong, multi-generational teams.

For further reflection and discussion:

  • How would I describe my leadership towards those who are older? Younger? Do I find it easier to connect with those who are older or those who are younger? Why? How can I develop stronger connections with persons from other generations that I lead?
  • Reflect on those you lead. What can I do to encourage them to develop greater inter-generational understanding?       
  • In addition to the verses we used in this issue, consider the following: 2 Timothy 2:22-26 and 3:2. What additional insights do you find from these verses about how Timothy understood and lead with the unique challenges of different generations?  

For further learning on this topic, I highly recommend Tim Elmore’s book, A New Kind of Diversity, which focuses on the broad spectrum of generations currently in the workforce and the value each brings to the team.

Until next time, yours on the journey,

Jon Byler In the next issue, we’ll examine how Timothy learned to teach.