Monday, June 27, 2016

Train the Next Generation of Leaders Now!!

Readings for the Day
2 Kings 13-14, 2 Chronicles 25, 2 Timothy 3

Verses for the Day
14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15 and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God[a] may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Thoughts for the Day
As Paul closes out his second letter to Timothy, he warns him of the type of people he will encounter during the last days. Remember Paul thought Jesus was going to return in his lifetime. Then Paul offers these words to Timothy as he equips him to be the next spiritual leader in his generation.

In these verses we see a pattern for training and discipleship of leaders in the church. The bible is not taught for informational purposes only, but for correcting, rebuking and training in righteousness. This is anything but passive. The bible is not read for only knowledge sake, but as the center and norm for everything we do and teach. The first purpose of the scripture is to make people wise for salvation. Meaning its central aim and purpose is to lead people to Christ. Importantly though, it is also a guide for teaching us how to actually live the Christian life.

Notice too, Timothy learned these scriptures when he was very young, since he was an infant. In 2 Timothy 1 Paul states this about young Timothy,

I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.

So Timothy is a third generation Christian, which would seem to point out he was a lot younger than Paul. Timothy's mother and grandmother created a home environment where the bible was taught and probably more Important, lived out. His mother and grandmother didn't drop him off at the church to become a disciple. They trained and disciples him themselves. It is interesting to note that if Timothy had a grandfather or father, they aren't mentioned.

One more important point. The passage says that Timothy became "convinced" of what he was taught. The essential truths of the scripture were formed in him, as he wrestled with it and lived by it. By his experience he became convinced it was true in the school of life.

So what can we learn from these last words of Paul to his young mentor Timothy? Since training the next generation of young leaders is essential to the church's survival, we ought to take seriously this pattern of leadership development and make it a first priority. Here are some points to consider.

1. Faith is best taught and exemplified in the home. While it can happen elsewhere, it is most effective in the home where a person grows up. It is the essential task of parents to teach and be an example of what following Jesus is all about. All of the statistics about kids keeping their faith through and beyond the college years confirm this.

2. Faith development is all about experiential learning, not just intellectual learning. Information alone does not lead to transformation as Jesus commanded us in the Great Commission. What the church needs is not necessarily more Christians, but those who have been formed in Christ and can teach others. Our churches should be laboratories of learning about how to live out the faith. Our young people, like Timothy, need to be convinced of what they believe in as they live in a rapidly and increasingly post Christian society.

3. Older leaders need to always be mentoring younger leaders for future of the church. Every Christian leader should have a younger leader who they are investing in and sharing their experience and wisdom. While there would be some teaching and reflection involved, nothing beats hands on training and learning in the context of real life ministry.

For pastors, take someone on that pastoral call or hospital visit. Observe and give feedback to their teaching and ministry. Pray with them, and share spiritual disciplines with them. One thing is for sure, Paul did not want his work to be in vain, and neither should we!

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