Discipleship has a way of making those involved feel naked.
In order to mentor or be discipled, you have to be willing to expose your weaknesses, fears and ineptitudes. Both individuals must be willing to be vulnerable — to be “spiritually unclothed” per se.
It’s a frightening feeling.
What is? Allowing someone else to get close enough to see my shortcomings, call me out on them (without taking their criticisms personally), and face the spiritual teacher tomorrow to go through the same thing again. Phew! That’s a tall order for even the most confident pupil, let alone the student who really wants to impress his teacher. Of course the teacher may feel vulnerable too, but not as much as the disciple. Paul was asking Timothy to display an extremely high level of commitment to the leadership discipling process — but in the end, the choice was Timothy’s.
Just how much did he desire to be used by God like his mentor Paul? Was he ready for the self-examination, the trials, failures and disappointments with himself that were guaranteed to be part of the process? My answer to this question is in some areas the answer is “Yes!” But in others a resounding “No,” according to some parts of Paul’s letters to him.
Timothy was hungry for Paul to teach him, yet there were some lessons only the congregation Timothy was pastoring in Ephesus could teach him.
According to early church history, (see the book of Acts), Timothy was born of mixed heritage: Greek (father) and Jewish (mother), yet was a very strong believer in Jesus Christ in his own right.
Paul added to Timothy’s foundational understanding of the Gospel which had been handed down to him through the spiritual discipleship of his mother Eunice and grandmother Lois. 2 Timothy 1:5 – When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also.
Timothy’s faith in the teachings of Christ were so impressive that when Paul met him, he enlisted his help as one of his missionary partners. Acts 16:1-4
1 Then came he to Derbe and Lystra: and, behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timotheus, the son of a certain woman, which was a Jewess, and believed; but his father was a Greek:
2 Which was well reported of by the brethren that were at Lystra and Iconium.
3 Him would Paul have to go forth with him; and took and circumcised him because of the Jews which were in those quarters: for they knew all that his father was a Greek.
4 And as they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem.
The only way Timothy could know what Paul taught was that he was a faithful talmid (disciple). He was present to hear him. He faithfully attended every church service Paul preached during their travels. He learned sound doctrine by faithfully listening to Paul preach and teach the Word and gleaned holiness by the witness of Paul’s life. Timothy ate, traveled, preached, slept in the same quarters with and was persecuted along with his spiritual leader. He was circumcised to appease Jewish believers, and even went so far as to be imprisoned with his spiritual father, Paul! What a high level of commitment!
The Hebrew word for disciple is talmid. Talmid means student. The plural is talmidim: students. A talmid was usually a student of one of the rabbis or Jewish sages. The talmid’s primary responsibility in life was to learn everything that his Master had to teach. It was widely instituted in ancient Jewish culture, and there were four primary responsibilities given to disciples of teachers:
Herein lies a Godly, ancient Jewish example for the spiritual disciple’s responsibility in the leadership succession model:
1) Memorization – A disciple was to memorize their teacher’s words.
2) Interpretation – A disciple was to learn their teacher’s traditions and interpretations.
3) Imitation – A disciple was to imitate their teacher’s actions.
4) Multiplication/Replication – A disciple was to raise up more disciples.
But that was then, what about today. Well, it’s basically the same, although it may look a little different for Western believers.
Herein lies a Godly, modern Judeo-Christian example for the spiritual disciple’s responsibility in today’s leadership succession model:
1) Be a strong, born-again believer in Jesus Christ
2) Be eager and willing to be taught and have a teachable spirit
3) Be willing to be faithfully submitted to the authority of a spiritual elder/mentor/teacher
4) Make your life available to aid, assist and travel with the mentor/leader
5) Follow the mentor’s example in teaching and manner of Christian living
6) Be willing to suffer with the mentor when being persecuted for shared beliefs
7) Be willing to endure hardness as a good soldier for Jesus Christ
Pastor Timothy gave himself fully to the spiritual leadership succession mentoring process because by all Biblical implications, Apostle Paul had chosen him as his successor.
You may want to be one of Yahweh’s Special Forces today, but are you ready to submit your life and soul to the process?
Are you willing to get spiritually naked to be clothed in the full armor of Yahweh and His Righteousness?
There are no shortcuts to the finish line.
The price must be paid, or there is no prize at the end.