Not everyone likes to work with the young kid. Do you want a brain surgeon fresh out of school and that looks like they are 15 years old? Do you want a dentist yanking on your teeth that looks younger than your own kids? Do you want a marriage counselor who is late 20’s, has a Phd and has been married for 4 years only?
Transitioning to receive from the next generation isn’t easy.
Nor is it to release the next generation knowing that they maybe they can’t do things as good as you can.
What I appreciate about Paul is that he always he had in mind the forward motion of the gospel and that means always training up the next generation. And in many ways he could’ve been stopped early if his heart had been bitter.
Mark, the cousin of Barnabas accompanied Paul on his first missionary journey. We don’t know the details but when they were just part-way in he abandon them and went back home. It was very painful not only that he left, but painful as it caused heartache between Paul and Barnabas. When they decided to go back on a second missionary journey, Barnabas wanted to take Mark again but Paul did not want a repeat. It caused such a sharp disagreement with them that they agreed to go on different missionary trips (Acts 15:36-41). It didn’t mean Paul and Barnabas weren’t speaking to one another, but it meant that for ministry purposes they had different values competing with one another. Later on there was reconciliation and Mark proved himself even with Paul, becoming a valuable member of his work (2 Tim 4:11).
Had Paul let this harden his heart against the next generation, he might not have taken under his wing the young man named Timothy. Timothy was very unusual in his love and commitment for the Lord. Paul says he served alongside him “as a son to his father” (Php 2:22) and that he did not abandon ship when things got hard – “Timothy has proved himself” (2:22).
In the same way that Timothy was a godly young man, Paul made sure to release him, trust him and respect him in ministry. He gave him weighty responsibilities in the church in Ephesus and Philippi. Paul did not hover or micromanage but gave him great responsibility. Timothy rose to the occasion.
At times just like here he had to publicly affirm his confidence in Timothy for the sake of the churches. And he reminded Timothy to be confident and “not let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching” (1 Tim 4:12-13).
Today there are many a church body shutting down because there has not been investment in the next generation. There’s oftentimes not been flexibility or releasing and respecting of young people. It’s tough to see. Even in my own area churches are closing mainly because people have literally died out.
We have a responsibility for the sake of the gospel to train up the next generation and also to release them, even in all their mistakes. In fact, it’s something we should always be doing. We must release them and not hover over them, but give them guidance and discipleship. Paul is a fantastic example here for us with Timothy.