Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Not Paul

Part of Timothy's trouble was that he was young - not young in sense of age, necessarily, but young in the ministry. The people in his flock likely knew that this was the first time Timothy had tended sheep on his own.

But part of Timothy's trouble, too, I think, is that he wasn't Paul.

I don't mean this in a disparaging way. I am by no means saying that Timothy was a less competent minister than Paul or that he somehow had less authority to be in the position that he was in or anything like that. What I am saying is that I firmly believe the little church that came into being under Paul's tutelage that was now under Timothy's teaching held him to a certain standard he was forever unable to meet.

And I say that because it's the same standard we all run into in various ways.

Whether it's in a ministry or a non-ministerial job, we are often held to the example of the person who came before us. Particularly, it must be said, to the example of the things that people really liked about that person. And so much of this battle is fought in the intangibles that it can be extremely frustrating to even engage.

Timothy could have said the very same words that Paul said. He could have put the emphasis on the right syllables and followed the script to a T. He could have visited persons in their homes, shared meals with them, collected the same monies, delivered them to Jerusalem. He could have worn the same tunic as Paul, shown the same calloused hands of a craftsman, even cut his hair in the same style. And there would still be persons in his little church who would mutter under their breath, Well, he's no Paul.

Of course he's not Paul. He's Timothy.

But people get accustomed to the ways that they do things. They get used to one particular style over another. They get used to the way one person's heart infuses something with a particular meaning. They build their lives, at least whatever little part of it there is that surrounds this particular person, around the way that things are.

And sometimes, it doesn't matter what you do, how well you do it, or how meaningful your service is, there are going to be those who forever hold you to a standard you can never possibly meet. Because you are not the person who came before you; you are the one who comes after.

Does this diminish your ministry? No. But does it trouble your spirit? You bet. And that can be a serious threat to your ministry.

That's why I love what Paul says in his affirmation of Timothy. Don't let anyone look down on  you because you are young, but set an example.... In other words, again, You got this. You be you and let people see who you are. They'll hear what you're saying, eventually, but for now, let them see you. You've got nothing to hide. Just. Be. Timothy.

Just. be. you. 

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