Paul writes in Titus about the importance of older people being role models to younger people, and the fact that relationships existing between the different demographics are vital to the health of the church. As ever, though, if someone doesn’t practice what they preach, their words are cast into doubt, and Paul’s words definitely hold weight because he lived out his words, most notably in his relationship with young Timothy, whom he called his son in the Lord. And yet, in today’s culture, the young disregard anyone too much older than them as obsolete. Their opinions no longer matter, and their ideals are out dated. Their advice is simply annoying and they probably smell a little funny, too.
Today’s culture does not value the wisdom that comes with age, and yet, it is that very relationship that Paul saw as so important. I think if we applied the logic, or illogic, of today’s culture, we would be writing Paul off as useless, and yet, in evangelical circles, it is his letters that we hold above the rest of Scripture as valuable… We study Romans and we breathe it deep because it is so beautifully written and so clear in its theology. But today we would ignore him. We would send him off to our 8am service and let him sing some hymns from a dusty old book and let that be that. There are people in churches who we should listen to, and most of them are not our own age.
I won’t give you the details of the people who I’d see as the “Paul’s” of my life, because that’s a little embarrassing for me and probably for them. I will tell you, though, why I think the sort of relationship Paul and Timothy matters today. When Paul talks about Timothy’s Christian family support, he refers to his grandmother and mother, but never a father. We don’t know what the story is with his father, but there are a lot of theories about it. Paul seems to have taken on that support role. He gives Timothy an example to follow and passes on wisdom that we now also benefit from.
There is a close relationship that resembles that of father and son, and for Timothy, who seemed to not have a father figure that would have been vital. In the church today, there seems to be a breakdown of family. No longer is there a clear family unit, but instead there is much more freedom for children where they do not have to respect or submit to any authority. Their lives are their own. Timothy would have submitted to Paul, even though he did not formally have to. I’ve rambled a lot, but I suppose my point is this… in a culture where we have let go of the value that comes from those who are older, and let’s face it, wiser, than us, we need to reconnect with the mentoring relationships of people such as Paul and Timothy, especially those who are involved in ministry.
There are three people who are in this close role for me and their input is infinitely valuable. What about you? Who are your “Paul’s”? Or maybe you’re one of the wise and you have a “Timothy”… What are they like?