Entrusted with Passing It On
and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.
(2 Timothy 2:2 ESV)
How is the next generation of preachers to be trained if they are not given the opportunity to preach? How are young young pastors supposed to grow in their ability to shepherd when they are not given the chance to minister?
From Paul to Timothy
In local churches where the gospel of Jesus Christ is rightly preached and the sacraments are administered regularly, we ought to prepare ministers for the work of the ministry. They should be invited to preach the Word and administer the sacraments. The work of visitation and counseling should be carefully and increasingly delegated from older, more experienced pastors to the younger, less experienced.
For how is he to learn how to “do it” if somebody does not show him? How am I supposed to do it “better” if I am not trained up alongside another faithful pastor?
From C.J. to Joshua
In the small pocket of evangelicalism that I grew up in, this biblical model of a Paul bringing up a Timothy is rare. In cases where it is present, it is often the younger pastor seeking out mentorship from the older. It is unfortunate that few senior pastors actively desire to disciple the newbie pastor so that he might take over one day. The mentor relationship C.J. Mahaney had with Joshua Harris is a needle in a haystack, or so it seems. Oh how I wish that the older generation of pastors would willingly disciple my generation of pastors. Intentionally discipling the next generation of pastors is the responsibility of the current generation.
Indeed, Paul’s ministry would be deemed a failure if he did not equip Timothy for the gospel ministry. The advance of the kingdom of God would be stalled if Paul had not prepared Titus for the pastorate. And could it be, that the evangelizing of nations would have been slowed by multiple generations if the Barnabas’es of our time were not called, and trained and sent out.
Passing the Baton again and again
This is the biblical pattern prescribed in 2 Timothy 2:2:
- Paul > Timothy > Faithful men > other men
Enough talk about Paul’s mentorship of Timothy. The Scripture above reveals to us that Timothy was commanded to teach faithful men what he [Timothy] had learned from Paul. Tim was not to hoard the gospel for himself. He must not puff up only himself with spiritual food. He was exhorted to feed others with the same Spirit-filled Word that he was. Paul demanded that Timothy develop a pattern of discipling faithful men, who would disciple other faithful men…and on and on it goes.
This probably meant that Timothy had to develop an internship program to get his own successor ready. Or at the least, Tim was convinced by Paul of the need to be intentional about pastoral development. Paul entrusted Timothy with the gospel and clear instructions about governing a church. Tim’s ministry requires a clear and defined succession plan, if the gospel was to endure for years to come. Tim could not be lazy about this plan; he cannot be territorial about his pulpit and his ministries. Eventually Timothy would pass away, and thus, it is imperative that he figures out how to pass on the baton.
And so should the lead pastors of our generation. Even pastors who are “only” in their 30s. We ought not be territorial about our corner of the church; we ought to be humbly inviting and nurturing other elder-qualified men to embrace God’s ministerial calling on their lives.
May we be diligent to live these Scriptures in the local church: “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12 ESV). In his book, Finding Faithful Elders and Deacons, Thabiti Anyabwile is convinced of the importance of this:
Older pastors should not hold against their younger peers something that cannot be changed (age), especially since God does not hold it against them. Rather, they should encourage, instruct, support, and train such young men as Paul did Timothy. This will inevitably mean giving the young pastor room to act and lead. (32)
EDIT: **See also the follow-up post, Passing it On…Together.