Paul’s exhortation to the church addressed to Timothy does not pass for our modern exclusive leadership training. Actually, leadership training does not exist in the bible.
The phrase in Paul’s speech in 2 Tim 2:2, “what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses”, indicates that the instruction was an open one. Some people have different understanding of the verse. However, no matter how we choose to comprehend it, it wouldn’t negate the truth that the exhortation was to the church and not those handpicked for leadership.
Jesus never took the apostles or his disciples aside to teach them how to lead others but how to serve Mark 9:35. He never taught them the psychology of humans since He never intended to relinquish leading or shepherding the people to His apostles or disciples. He always taught them God’s heart; His will for all men to be saved (not Calvinism) —and served. He showed them the general doctrine to be taught to all who truly know Him. Those whose hearts truly know Christ will pick it and follow on with God Hosea 6:3, 10:12, Jer 4:3.
The end part of Paul’s statement in verse 2 of 2 Tim 2, “entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” highlights what should be seen in those to pass on this “open knowledge” not “secret knowledge”. The key dispositions of the people are these;
*A life of faithfulness to God not to Paul
*Willingness to continue to learn ways to be more loving, obedient to Christ and joyfully serving others through the gospel.
This kind of faithfulness was Paul’s emphasis. In other words, not to selfish folks, but Christians (those who are selfless and eager to pass same knowledge they have freely received to others without demanding payment and or allegiance to themselves but to Christ). This is different from the mentor and protégé practice in the circular and religious systems.
In the gathering of the Church, to recognize the gifts in more matured believers and be drawn to benefit from it is perfectly scriptural. Therefore, to give due respect to such persons is highly advocated but to become their protégé is not scriptural Matt 23:8.
In the bible, particularly the New Testament, it was the matured Christians that saw the grace and faithfulness in the lives of younger believers and the areas of lack they can fill in their lives. So, they drew them closer. Paul and Onesimus in Philemon 1, Acts 18:25-26, 12:25.
However, the matured always recognized that they too stood to be blessed with the calling in the lives of those they had drawn into closer relationship for the work of Christ not their ministries 2 Tim 4:11. This is quite different from the mentor and protégé system where, the protégé submits their resume officially or unofficially for consideration by the mentor who sees him or herself as master having a disciple who owes him or her allegiance. The allegiance becomes the main criteria for passing those who are interested to serve their vision—though, it’s put smartly in scriptural terminology.
The relationship that Priscilla and her husband Aquila had with Apollos, Elijah and Elisha and Paul and Timothy is far from the mentor and protégé humanistic invention.
Only Christ should have us as His protégés or disciples and, —“you all are brothers” Matt 23:8. Paul and Timothy was referred to as servants of Christ and the church in Phill 1:1. For Timothy to be a servant of Christ and the church, he did not have to first be a protege or serve Paul.
Every believer has a spiritual gift which, those with ministry gifts also benefit from and yet, it doesn’t make them protégés. The counsel of scripture is, “submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” Eph 5:21, 1 Pet 5:5. The ministry gifts equip those who operate in it. They also benefit from the safety of the spiritual gifts in the body to which God has set them Eph 4:16, 1 Cor 12:7. John and Paul’s statements in John 1:9-10 and Gal 1:8 echo’s it, “If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting” and “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.” Gal1:8, Acts17:11NLT.
Reading verse 8 of Galatians 1 carefully, you’ll notice that Paul is saying that the words they were inspired to preach is Christ himself or, their words were the voice of Christ. The implication is this; if the churches know the Lord’s voice, then, even if he (Paul) or anyone else came with another word, it is not to be received John 10:4-5. For this reason, as seen in 1 Cor 7:12, Paul always made it clear when he spoke from himself and not from the Lord.
The concluding statement of verse 8 of Galatians 1 indicates that God—not us, will be instrumental to those bringing their own words as if it were Christ’s to be accursed.
Paul never saw himself or others as above being derailed. How important that the Holy Spirit resides in every believer!
All believers are encouraged to grow in Christ by interacting with the other spiritual and ministry gifts in the fellowship of saints. In this interaction within and outside of one’s immediate community of faith, no one should be the disciple or protégé of a fellow believer. To use Jesus’ example of having twelve Apostles or many disciples to support the unscriptural practice of having a protector (mentor John 17:12) and the protected (protégé) is to say the least absurd.
Believers are to be equipped generally not specifically. True believers grow in Christ through fellowship with God, Christ and the saints by the power of the Holy Spirit.
When a believer has the privilege to give his or her time specifically to help another believer (for a season) to sharpen his or her comprehension and walk with Christ, it doesn’t obligate the helped believer to work in the gospel with the one who helped him or her. And, it shouldn’t turn the helped believer to the puppet of the one who God used to bring the help.
The Christian life is holistic not specialistic—as such, no individual in the body of Christ can supply another believer all he or she needs to fulfill their destiny. This truth will be appreciated if we understand there is a huge difference between our destiny and our ambitions. All Christians share one destiny which is eternal life but, ambitions run wild 1 Tim 6:12. God fulfils our destiny by taking us through His Way and ways if we’re willing Eph 4:1, Isa 1:19. Blindness and tragedy occurs when we accept His Way but refuse His ways because we want to fervently pursue our good ambitions. Misunderstanding the difference between our destiny and our ambitions is what drives us into the mentality and practice of mentor and protégé relationships.
It is true that mentor and protégé relationship can foster success in a particular specialty e.g., an architect seeking to advance in his field may be better off going to a more experienced and acclaimed architect who shows interest in him or her than going to an academic institution to acquire just a certificate. The additional benefit of profitable experience, contacts or networks the mentor creates is not likely to come from the institution of learning. But, if he or she is seeking to advance the entirety of his or her life as a Christian, the place to go is to God who holds her destiny in His hands. This is the reason all who become believers in Christ are added to a gathering of the saints.
We’ll continue in another post to examine and meditate on the subject
Grace and peace to you in the name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ