Conventional and Unconventional Wisdom in Transitioning The Pastor-Teacher

Listening to conventional wisdom has not allowed us to hear all that the Bible has to say. Biblical wisdom says that we have a responsibility to train more pastors. In 2 Timothy 2:1-2, Paul instructs Timothy to entrust the things he’s been taught to faithful men. “The things which you have heard from me” -- these things Paul wanted Timothy to pass along to pastor-teachers.

The Nature of Things

Spiritual intimacy must exist in a relationship in order to understand “the things” of doctrine and practice. Paul is speaking to his son in the faith, Timothy, who he also also calls his true child and beloved son. He was Paul’s spiritual mentee, growing up under his preaching and continuing side by side with him in ministry.

Spiritual ability is developed through hardship. Paul knew the struggles Timothy had endured, growing up without a father or a spiritual father in the home. Even for those who haven’t had a father or a mentor, God is still capable. The things Timothy was supposed to teach can be done with exclusive help from heaven. There is nothing that God commands us to do that He does not give grace enough for us to perform.

The teaching of a mentor has spiritual content. Paul speaks of “the traditions,” all the things which Paul had been inspired to write up to that point throughout his travels and ministry. The traditions would also include the whole body of biblical revealed truth that Paul had received, not just what is found in his letters. Paul tells Timothy to remember the things he was taught under his mother and grandmother and from their side-by-side relationship. The things, the traditions, are all that Timothy learned from his salvation to the time he became a pastor.

The Necessity of the Teaching of These Things

The very nature of the things demands an activity, that something be done with them. Paul tells Timothy to entrust these things to faithful men. He must be looking for men, then train them in these things. Timothy must be actively seeking out men. This is not the conventional way, but the biblical way of transitioning ministry leadership.

The authenticity. The text says Timothy must look for faithful men like himself. This authenticity is required of pastor-teachers and others. Faithful men come with various skill sets and gifts when they are added to the body of the church. We are to entrust these things to all people of various gifts, trusting the grace of God to grant wisdom to all mature believers. This process is also known as discipleship.

The Nurturing Reality

The churches in Ephesus had significant capacity. Paul tells Timothy in verse 2 that there is a plurality of possible men to train. The Lord is teaching us that He is faithful to provide many leaders as long as we are faithful to follow the command to teach, seek, and entrust to faithful men.

There have been discussions if these words are referring to the whole body of believers or specifically to men. Our interpretation gains clarity by knowing the words in verse 2 are masculine. Now, of course, all Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for instruction; but in this passage, Paul is making it clear to Timothy that God has given enough men to protect the church specifically with the pastor-teacher gift.

Application Points

  • When we are wounded by God and brought to the lowest place, we are then able to do the works God gave us. The greater the grief, the greater the exposure of our own inability and weaknesses, leading us, even forcing us, to trust Him completely.
  • We can assume the Lord will give men as leaders to ensure the security and protection of the church tomorrow. We should pray that God will provide these men from within our church.
  • Not only should we be seeking out these men, but we should be actively engaged in discipleship of all believers. Refreshing the spiritual gifting of each and passing down “the traditions” is our obligation. This helps the church mature, develops our spiritual capacity, and further builds the church. Are you engaged in a discipling relationship? Are you seeking to mature as a Christian and help others mature?

Tools for Further Study

Cross References to Explore:
  • Philippians 2:22, 1 Timothy 1:2 - Paul’s closeness with Timothy
  • 2 Peter 1:5-7 - Perseverance
  • 1 Timothy 3:14-15 - Applying “these things”
  • 2 Thessalonians 3
  • Romans 16
  • Luke 23:26
  • Acts 20 - Paul speaking in Lystra about his teachings, “these things”
  • Acts 14 - The people deify Paul
  • 2 Timothy 3:16 - Scripture is given by inspiration of God
A Quote to Ponder

“It is doubtful whether God can use anyone until He’s wounded them deeply.”
A.W. Tozer