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 Preparing another Generation of Leaders & Shepherds by Zac Poonen

Paul’s burden before he left the earth was to prepare another generation of leaders to be good shepherds of God’s people. He pointed them to his own life. Paul always pointed to his own life as an example. When he spoke to the elders in Ephesus he did not say, “Remember the sermons I preached to you”, but rather “Remember the way I lived with you” (Acts 20:19, 33–35). And he tells Timothy the same thing here, “I thank God whom I serve with a clear conscience the way my forefathers did.” (2 Timothy 1:3). Paul was not perfect, but to the best of his knowledge, as his conscience taught him, he lived an upright life before God.

Paul then speaks endearing words to Timothy, because Timothy was the one co-worker who brought the greatest delight to Paul’s heart. Paul was disappointed with many believers in many churches because they were not radical disciples. He was also disappointed with many of his co-workers because they did not live utterly and totally for God. Any true servant of God will face the same disappointment today. If Paul faced disappointment with the churches he planted, do you think we are going to do any better? I have planted churches and I am disappointed with a lot of things I see in some of those churches. I have co-workers and I am disappointed with some of the things I see in some of those co-workers. Here and there we find one person like Timothy who does not seek his own in anything. Such people bring great delight to the heart of a servant of God.

Paul was excited because he found a few like him who could carry on the ministry into the next generation. What brings the greatest delight to the heart of any servant of God is to see at the end of his life, that there are some who will carry on his ministry with the same spirit and devotion to the Lord. Timothy was one like that. That’s why Paul wrote, “I always remember you in my prayers, longing to see you. I recall your tears.” (2 Timothy 1:3-4). That must have been the last time he saw Timothy. Now Paul thought he might never see him again.

Timothy’s grandmother Lois was the first person that came to faith in that family (2 Timothy 1:5). His grandmother transmitted her faith to his mother, Eunice – and she transmitted it to Timothy. That grandmother gave faith to her daughter, not Scripture-knowledge. And that mother passed on that faith to Timothy. That means as Timothy grew up, he must have seen his mother trusting God in different trials she went through. Do your children see you trusting God in your trials? That’s how you can communicate faith to them. That’s why God allows those difficult trials to come your way. From a small age your children must know one thing: “My Mummy prays and trusts God when she is in a difficult situation. When I was sick my Daddy laid hands on my head and prayed for me in the name of Jesus.” When that little child grows up and leaves home one day, and he or she faces a difficult situation, they will do exactly what their Daddy and Mummy did. They will pray to God in the name of Jesus. That is how we are to communicate faith to them. We must tell them the stories in the Bible. That is necessary. That way they will have the knowledge of God’s Word. But we need to communicate faith to them as well. Little did Eunice know that this little boy of hers would grow up to be a mighty apostle of Jesus Christ! Paul selected Timothy to be his co-worker when Timothy was perhaps 20 years old. What a work that mother did for the church in her home! You can do the same by bringing up your children to trust in the Lord from their childhood.

Timothy’s father was Greek (Acts 16:3). Eunice was the daughter of a God fearing Jewish mother. But Eunice must have drifted from God to have disobeyed the Law and married a Gentile. Later she must have repented. Her husband was probably a rich businessman, who had no time for God and no interest in bringing up his son in a godly way. So Eunice had to raise Timothy single handedly. Yet she brought him up in such a godly way that he became one of the finest apostles of the first century. What an example Eunice is for mothers today who have unconverted husbands! Who knows, but God’s plan for that little 4-year old son of yours may be that he should become an apostle of Jesus Christ one day! If so, then a great deal depends on you, dear mother, on how you bring him up, and whether you communicate faith in God to his little heart. Don’t let him hear you backbiting against others in the church and complaining and murmuring about things at home. That will destroy him.

I was very careful in my home, that my children should never hear me speaking evil of other believers, lest they be infected with that disease. Just as I did not want any of my children to get tuberculosis or leprosy, I did not want them to be infected with negative attitudes towards other believers. If we can communicate faith to our children, when they see us facing difficulties at home, we would have given them the most important gift of all.

In most cases, we have observed that first-generation Christians are stronger in faith and in devotion to the Lord than second-generation Christians who grew up in believing homes. But Timothy was an exception. He was a third-generation believer who was devoted to the Lord. So there can be second-generation and third-generation believers who are even more devoted to the Lord than their parents were.


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