#352 Timothy: Clarifying the Call

June 28, 2023

Timothy had a gifting and calling to the leadership roles in which he served, especially in his leadership of the church at Ephesus. But there were many years of growth and development that preceded this assignment and during that time Timothy was clarifying his calling.  Consider these instructions Paul gave to Timothy:

Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you (1 Timothy 4:14, NIV).

For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands (2 Timothy 1:6).  

Timothy, my son, I am giving you this command in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by recalling them you may fight the battle well (1 Timothy 1:18).

In these passages Paul encouraged Timothy to be clear about the call he had received to be a leader. There are several steps Timothy took to clarify his call which serve as a model for all serving leaders.

Timothy recognized the call to lead.

Paul reminds Timothy that there was a time that a body of elders laid hands on him and prophetically identified the calling and gifting that was in Timothy. We can’t know for certain when this happened but since Paul later reminds him to remember the call, it is likely that it was early in his leadership journey, perhaps when he first left home to travel with Paul. In any case, when this happened it was the beginning of recognition of his gifting and calling. Like most leaders Timothy did not likely see his own abilities and needed others to speak into his life to confirm his gifting. Serving leaders receive this as a part of their journey and they also seek to do the same for others around them.  

Timothy reinforced the call to lead.

Paul encouraged Timothy to “not neglect” and to “fan into flame” the gift that was within him. This is a call to nurture and develop what has been identified.  There would be many steps of learning and growth that were required before Timothy was ready to lead the church at Ephesus and we’ll look at many of these later in this series. For now, suffice it to say that the gifts in Timothy were clearly given but also needed to be reinforced. He would have to learn to lead as the prophecies foretold. He would practice and sometimes make mistakes but continued learning and growing. Timothy would also learn to acknowledge that he was not gifted in every way, he had his unique strengths but he would not be excellent at every aspect of leadership.  Serving leaders acknowledge that they are called and gifted to lead and at the same time recognize the diverse gifts that are needed around them. They “fan into flame” their own gifts as they learn to lead well.

Timothy remembered the call to lead.

Paul admonishes Timothy to “recall” the prophecies that had been spoken over him years earlier. What was the purpose of this reminder? Perhaps Timothy was going through a difficult time in his leadership journey and needed encouragement. Or maybe he was feeling so successful that he was forgetting the reason that he was serving. Timothy, like all serving leaders, needed to stop and reflect on why he was doing what he was doing. They need to remember their own call to serve others with their leadership gifts.

Paul wanted Timothy to remain in Ephesus…maybe it was difficult and Timothy felt like giving up. We need to remember the purpose behind our serving. Encouragement is needed.

For further reflection and discussion:

  • Where did I first recognize that I was gifted and called to leadership? Were there others who affirmed this in me and if so, have I expressed my appreciation to them for this gift?
  • Who around me has leadership gifts that I can identify and affirm? How and when will I do this?
  • What are my greatest leadership strengths and what am I currently doing to develop them?
  • How deeply have I accepted that I will never excel at every element of leadership but I can bring a team around me to complement my weaknesses? How does this impact my leadership?
  • Reflect on those you lead. What can I do to encourage them to clarify their own calling?        
  • In addition to the verses we used in this issue, consider the following verses: 1 Timothy 4:15-16; 6:11-12, 20; and 2 Timothy 2:14. What additional insights do you find from these verses about how Timothy clarified his call?       

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 learned the Word.

#351 Timothy: Paying the Price of Leadership

June 14, 2023

Timothy was hungry to learn but he also recognized that growth in leadership comes at a cost. He was willing to pay the price that was required to shape him into the strong leader that he would become. Consider these scriptures about his life:

Paul wanted to take him along on the journey, so he circumcised him because of the Jews who lived in that area, for they all knew that his father was a Greek (Acts 16:3, NIV).

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God (2 Timothy 1:7–8).

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).

These verses, and many others, hint at the price Timothy needed to pay to be the leader we admire today.

Timothy paid the price of surrendering. 

Before he even left home, Timothy learned that leadership is not about him and his comfort but about being ready and willing to serve others. The pain of circumcision was more than physical, it meant that he was willing to surrender his own comfort for the sake of those he wanted to serve. When people would look down on him because of his youth, he would surrender his desire to fight back and declare his position. Timothy was learning an early lesson that all serving leaders eventually learn—at the heart of serving leadership is a heart attitude of surrender.

Some leaders are not willing to give up their own ambitions, dreams, and ego for the sake of those they serve. But serving leaders pay the price of surrender, not once but daily.

Timothy paid the price of stretching.  

When Timothy agreed to join Paul, it was an exciting new adventure but it was also costly. Traveling to new cities was not all exotic, especially when they were chased out of town with stones! This journey would require Timothy to stretch and grow in ways that would not be comfortable. He had to relocate and leave the comfort of his own home and place of his birth. He would need to stretch his “timid” personality to be a bold leader. He would stretch out of his comfort zone with continual new challenges and greater levels of responsibility as he matured under Paul’s guidance. He would pay the price of learning to receive the correction and counsel that Paul continued to give even as a seasoned leader. He needed to stretch his own character to be a model for others.

Some leaders want responsibility and authority without being willing to pay the price of being stretched in their own growth. But serving leaders accept that leadership is a journey of continual growth and development. Serving leaders focus on stretching themselves before directing others.

Timothy paid the price of suffering.  

Timothy paid the price of physical suffering and was likely jailed at least once. (See Hebrews 13:23). But he also suffered along with Paul as they were persecuted on many occasions. He suffered the isolation of separation from his family, the discomfort of continual moves, and the false accusations others made about him.  Apparently, he also suffered physical ailments. (See 1 Timothy 5:23).

Many leaders step back from leadership when they face suffering and decide to take a less costly path. But serving leaders accept that suffering is a price of leadership and will be used to strengthen their character and make them more effective in serving others.

For further reflection and discussion:

  • What price have I already paid to lead? Are there other steps I should take as a leader that have seemed too costly for me to take? What will it take for me to be willing to pay the price?  Who can help me take this step?
  • In what way(s) have I surrendered my own ambition, dreams or ego this week? How does this impact my leadership?
  • In what way(s) am I currently stretching my leadership capacity? Are any changes needed?
  • How do I respond to suffering in my leadership and how does this impact my growth?
  • What can I do to help those I lead be willing to pay the price of leadership?      
  • In addition to the verses we used in this issue, consider the following verses: 2 Timothy 2:3, 3:12, and 4:5. What additional insights do you find from these verses about how Timothy paid a price for his leadership?    

Until next time, yours on the journey,

Jon Byler

In the next issue, we’ll examine how Timothy clarified his calling.