Have you ever noticed that the nearer you get to some people the more you are inspired by them and in some situations it is the opposite effect. Personally I have always been the kind of person that doesn’t draw people to him at first glance. The way it usually is what someone once said to me that ‘now I have got to know you I like you’! It was a bold piece of feedback that actually made sense to me. Even the lady who was going to be the love of my life took a while to get to that point.
However I have been in a ministry for quite a while now and for the first 6-8 years I was totally out of step with everyone else, or at least that’s how it felt. No influence, no support in the leadership and someone I respect made it clear that in the ministry I had joined nobody had a good word to say about me.
This was hard to hear and I had to take a long hard look at myself and verses like todays really made a difference.
“You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, sufferings—what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them.” 2 Timothy 3:10-11 NIV
Paul was appealing to the fact that Timothy knew about his life and that his life was his authority.
The word translated as ‘know all about’ is in fact literally to walk closely beside. We can have an impact because of our reputation or writing or sermons or even our status in society and talents. However the real question is do those who walk with you everyday, who truly know you when you think you are not being watched, want to follow you? How would those people describe your character and life style?
Paul decided to make it a bit more emphatic by listing the things he thought Timothy would have noticed:
1. Teaching – the greek word means ‘properly applied teaching’. It is not his theology but application and usefulness. I think we sometimes feel we need to be scholars to help people. It is actually more about how practical and useful you can be.
2. Way of life – the greek means leading or guiding and focusses Timothy on the way he lead his life. It was about the choices he made and how they inspired those who saw them. Do you call others higher by your choices?
3. Purpose – this is hard word to get as it refers to the showbread in the Temple. Which came to mean setting in front of and also predetermination and purpose. Essentially the word challenges us to ask what we are working towards? What is in front of you that inspires and drives your behaviours? Do people get that your destination is heaven from your choices and that your purpose and focus is Jesus?
4. Faith – in this context it means to be fully persuaded and living with a guarantee. There is a certainty that a disciple can live with. Confidence and certainty can be ours if we choose to be persuaded about Gods power and involvement. Do you lift others by your confidence at the key moments?
5. Patience – as we have been talking about this is the long tempered approach to conflict and disappointment. This for me is the key point, fully of conviction but expressing it at the right time and in the right way. Paul was under incredible pressure and constantly dealing with being miss-understood and miss-quoted yet he could say remember my patience. I am not sure I could.
6. Love – there are differ though words fo love in Greek so it is helpful to know which one we are dealing with. This one means to have a deep preference for something and is usually used to refer to Gods love. What a bold thing to do to use the word for Gods preferences and loves to describe ourselves. Could you?
7. Endurance – next Paul talks about his ability to stay in the fight, to endure. The word literally means to remain (endure) under the pressures and challenges of life. Is there any area of the spiritual battle that you have left the field and stopped fighting?
8. Persecutions – we are almost at the end and Paul uses a word that means ‘the hunt to bring someone down like an animal’. That is what happened to him, he was hunted and perused like an animal by the enemies of God to such an extent that he used it as proof of his character. I have never been hunted like and animal although I have sometimes lost perspective and thought I was.
9. Suffering – finally Paul uses a word that actually means ‘strong feeling which should result in knowing Gods glory’’ to describe his life. How amazing to see his deepest and most challenging emotions as suffering that draws him closer to God. How are you seeing the deep emotions you are experiencing?
Which of those would be like you and what other words would be used by your closest companions? It might be something that you could ask them.
The key insight that I took away from the hard feedback I received was that I needed to focus on the things I could control like my life, like sacrifice and closeness to God and allow God to do the rest. Amazingly, enough things have changed a lot. Once I stopped focussing on who was following and started to try and be someone worth following I found my leadership impact was transformed.
Is there any relationship or situation that you have trying to change by focussing on what others need to do and be like rather than your own character and what God is teaching you through it?
My encouragement is that God can change others and blow through any roadblocks we just need to be the kind of people he can use and let Him do the rest.