Timothy: Hungry to Learn

#350, May 31, 2023

In the previous series we looked at what Paul did as a serving leader to develop his leadership pipeline. Our primary focus was on what Paul did to help Timothy grow in leadership. In this series we’ll flip the focus to Timothy and look at what he did that helped develop his leadership capacity. Although we don’t have any recorded words of Timothy, his life is a model for us in learning how we can grow and develop our own capacity and how we can encourage the heart and actions of Timothy in those we lead. Consider Paul’s words to him about learning:

14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15 and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 3:14–15, NIV).

At the heart of Timothy’s leadership journey was his lifelong passion to learn and grow.  His life is an example to all serving leaders.

Timothy acknowledged the priority of learning.

Timothy was likely only a year or two old in his new faith when Paul requested him to join the team. He was young and inexperienced, and he realized that he had a lot to learn. He would spend the next season of life with Paul who was already an effective leader. But Timothy recognized that Paul’s training would only be effective if he was a willing learner.  

Some leaders are content to learn enough to get the job done, but they don’t have a hunger to learn more. They see learning as only a tool to accomplish a task or achieve a specific goal. But serving leaders see the priority of learning and begin a life-long pursuit of growth so that they can influence and serve more people. They recognize that their growth will also impact the growth of those around them.  And serving leaders know that unless they grow and develop themselves, they cannot effectively grow and develop others.

Timothy accepted the process of learning.

Timothy accepted the reality that his learning would be a process. It began by choosing the right people to learn from. “…because you know those from whom you learned it.”  Timothy watched Paul’s life carefully, but he also learned much from his mother and grandmother. (See 2 Timothy 1:5). Timothy recognized that the learning process would be continuous. “…continue in what you have learned…” Timothy was now a seasoned leader on his own. But he wanted to continue growing. He realized that this would be a lifelong process.

Some leaders try to take shortcuts in the learning process and only pursue more growth when they face an obstacle they can’t overcome. But serving leaders choose continued growth knowing that the price they pay is worth the effort.

Timothy acquired the product of learning.

As Paul observed Timothy’s life at this stage, he recognized that Timothy had acquired a deep conviction from his learning.  “…you…have become convinced…”  Timothy began his journey uncertain and inexperienced, but over time, as he learned and grew, he developed confidence. This confidence was not arrogance, but a settled conviction that he was ready and able to lead others. This confidence grew out of the continuous learning journey that he had pursued all his life.

Some leaders never acquire confidence in their gifting, calling and capacity and are unable to genuinely serve others. Without confidence they assert power and use their position for themselves. But serving leaders acquire confidence through a lifetime of learning and release power and authority to those they serve.

For further reflection and discussion:

  • How hungry am I to grow as a leader? Is my hunger increasing or diminishing over time? How does this impact my leadership capacity?
  • How can I develop a greater hunger to learn in my own life? What daily or weekly disciplines do I have that keep me growing? Who am I intentionally looking at as a person that helps me grow?
  • Reflect on those you lead. What can I do to encourage them to develop a hunger for learning?  Am I doing my part to make learning accessible and expected for them?      
  • In addition to the verses we used in this issue, consider the following verses from Timothy’s life: 1 Timothy 4:12, 15–16; 1 Timothy 6:20-21; and 2 Timothy 1:6, 13-14. What additional insights do you find from these verses about how Timothy was hungry to learn and grow?          
  • In this series we are 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. 

Until next time, yours on the journey,

Jon Byler In the next issue, we’ll look at how Timothy paid the price of leadership.