#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.