What are some of the most beautiful relationships in Scripture? There are many to chose from: Moses and Joshua, David and Jonathan, Jesus and his disciples, Jesus and John, Eli and Samuel, Naomi and Ruth … the list can go on. However I want to reflect on a particular type of relationship, which if we practise, can result in blessing for years, if not generations to come. This important relationship is the mentor, that is, the older person who takes a younger person under their wing and sacrifices time, energy, effort and most importantly of all, themselves, for the growth of the young person.
One of the most beautiful examples (outside of Christ and his disciples) is Paul and Timothy. Timothy, a young man of mixed descent has a faithful mother and grandmother. Paul takes him on his second missionary journey and ultimately places him as a young pastor in Ephesus. Then, despite his imprisonment (at least by the Second Epistle to Timothy) Paul writes letters in which he teaches and encourages Timothy in his important task.
In 2 Timothy Paul calls Timothy “my dear son” and expresses a passionate longing to see him. We have no record of Timothy’s response but we can surely imagine the wisdom and strength he gained from Paul’s input. As a young man in a tough pastoral environment, having Paul’s backing and support would have been a huge blessing.
Today we live in an era of social and family fragility. Not every young man or woman grows up with healthy role models let alone committed mentors. There is a crying need for “Pauls” (men and women) who are prepared to lead and nurture the young in wisdom. I believe it is a role, no, a calling, the church has today. One way for the church to make a lasting and positive impact is to be “living gospels” to the young, in order that these young people can see, hear and emulate a faith filled and directed Christian life. Then we may say as Paul did, “You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, …” (2Tim 3:10).