Mentoring Millennials

Tip #8: Send Them (Phil. 2:19-22).

I’ve always wanted a mini-me. You know—a little underling that can do my every bidding. Maybe even a clone of myself! In fact, sometimes I get a little jealous of you older ministry men who have your own “administrative assistants” (the politically correct way of saying “secretary”). I need an administrative assistant for my everyday life! Someone to fix me breakfast, do my laundry, remind me of my dentist appointments…oh wait, that’s my Mom!

Did you know Paul had an administrative assistant? No, he didn’t perceive him as a “mini-Paul” or underling. He treated him with great respect and deployed him to great effect in the churches he had planted. His name was Timothy—yeah, the guy we’ve been focusing on this whole series! But let’s put it in reverse and go back to before Paul wrote him two letters—to the times before he was pastor at Ephesus, when he acting as Paul’s messenger around the Mediterranean.

On three occasions in Scripture, Paul writes to a church and tells them that he has or will send Timothy to them—in 1 Corinthians 4:17, 1 Thessalonians 3:2, and Philippians 2:19-22. Boy, this guy must’ve had a lot of frequent flyer miles when he was working for Paul! You see, Paul had a nasty habit of getting arrested or detained. Or just busy on the other side of the world! You know how that goes. He, like many of you older pastors, had a tight schedule—his whole life was ministry, and he had made many contacts. But contacts take time to develop into converts. In small part, you know what his life was like: the hectic demands of ministry. Paul couldn’t do everything, and he didn’t have a clone.

But he did have a Timothy. Let’s focus in on Philippians 2:19-22: “But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, that I also may be encouraged when I know your state. For I have no one like-minded, who will sincerely care for your state. For all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus. But you know his proven character, that as a son with his father he served with me in the gospel.”

Do you feel Paul’s frustration? Maybe you’ve had similar thoughts—“Man, there’s just nobody who’s doctrinally sound whom I could trust to take over this ministry for me. There’s nobody qualified to fill the pulpit for me. All these millennials are seeking their own things and not Jesus!”

Wrong! God is raising up millennials—probably in your very church!—whom you can train. Sure, they may not be qualified right now, but they sure can be—with your help! Perhaps you can’t trust them with big things yet, but as you invest in them, your trust will grow as they show themselves dependable. Maybe there’s a young man in your church right now who’s been faithfully serving in the children’s ministry or some other task and has shown that he has “proven character.” Invest in him! Send him out to help you in the ministry!

Paul sent Timothy on hard tasks. He didn’t just train him—he gave him practical opportunities to exercise his new knowledge. After all, he sent him to Corinth, to the most unruly and rebellious church! Paul sent him into tough situations because he knew he could count on him. Timothy had “proven” himself. Why? Because Paul had invested years and years into the young man.

If you feel overwhelmed by your responsibilities, maybe that’s a good thing. If you feel you have too much on your plate…maybe you do! Maybe God’s trying to tell you to fork some of your responsibilities over onto a young man who’s starving from a lack of practical opportunities to exercise what he’s learning. Bible college is great—but if ministry training isn’t accompanied by ministry doing, it’s a bunch of hogwash. The problem I see is a lack of older men giving young men opportunities to practice their gifts, not a lack of millennial eagerness.

So send out a millennial. Send them to a hospital bed, to a pulpit, to a retreat, to a speaking engagement, to a visitor’s house. You can be his ministry Dad and watch God make him into your ministry son.

Not a mini-you. But a mini-Christ.



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