August 16 — “Walk With Me: Timothy”
If you have your Bibles, open them to Acts 16.
The year is 2005. I’m about to begin my sophomore year of high school. Everything is new. I know more about high school than I did the previous year, and I was eager to prove myself to not be a “sophomoron” as one youth pastor described us.
Over the summer, our youth pastor had left, and the new guy had be hired. He was slated to start on August 26, 2005. We were ready for him.
His name was Josh, and we were hesitant to trust him at first. He was from the Midwest. He loved college football. He played bass. He didn’t radiate “cool.” He wore glasses and had a tattoo of the sun on his arm that sometimes looked like a sunflower. He had a soul patch. He said “dude” a lot.
He had asked our senior pastor and volunteers who the “core” students were at our youth group, and they gave him two names: mine and my best friend David’s.
One day I was at the church with my mom dropping some stuff off and he walked into the office and asked:
“Do you want to get lunch with me?”
A few thousand years ago, another guy did the same thing. There was a young kid, named Timothy. And at that time there was this name that had been circulating in the pipelines of the Christian movement, known as “The Way.”
That name was once spoken with fear and trembling, but now it had been restored. Cleaned up. Saul had recently been converted to Christianity after a miraculous meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus, and he was traveling through different cities and preaching and proclaiming the glory of God and the good news of the salvation that he offers to all mankind.
While on his travels, Paul entered into a city.
Paul came to Derbe and then to Lystra, where a disciple named Timothy lived, whose mother was Jewish and a believer but whose father was a Greek. The believers at Lystra and Iconium spoke well of him. Paul wanted to take him along on the journey, so he circumcised him because of the Jews who lived in that area, for they all knew that his father was a Greek
Paul, coming to the town of Lystra through Derbe, had heard the name of this kid who was popular in the churches. He worked hard and served others, and Paul, knowing the length he will be traveling, knowing that the continuation of the Christian church is predicated on building up new followers and leaders asks Timothy a question:
“Will you walk with me?”
Josh asks “Do you want to get lunch with me?” and tells me to invite David. We’re going to Squeeze Inn, a local restaurant that sells this cheeseburger.
Over the course of that meeting, Josh wanted to capture a pulse on what our group of high school and middle school students needed. We ended up drifting from talking about ministry specifics to talking about school and the classes we were taking. We talked about Apple products and the rise of the “I’m a Mac. I’m a PC” commercials. We talked about music and bands that we enjoyed.
And those meetings didn’t stop there. Josh would invite us back to his office and show us books on student leadership. He taught us how to teach messages. He taught us what it means to love God and to love people.
A few years later, David and I were wrapping up our first year of college, and Josh asked us:
“Will you be my summer interns?”
You see, it all starts with a question. A question of invitation. Will you participate in this activity with me? Will you join me and be a part of my life.
And for Timothy, I can’t imagine that he could immediately think of all the places he would travel with Paul. I don’t think he knew exactly what was going to happen and what they would experience together and individually. For Timothy, life got really crazy, really fast.
Timothy joined Paul and Silas, and journeyed with them to Berea, continuing to invest in the both of them. Continuing to mentor them up into strong believers. Paul, desiring Timothy to be everything he was and more, began to leave Timothy with the churches he established. He would send them off to shape his skill set. To teach him how to be pastoral. He would test him and then write letters to help encourage him, which is how we got the letters of 1 and 2 Timothy.
Timothy started as just a young boy following in the footsteps of a mentor, and through years of patience and practice finds himself in the center of many of the churches of the known world.
It started with a question, but continues with a response.
I was 17 years old when God pulled at my heart to enter ministry. It was the summer of 2009, that my youth pastor, Josh, asked David and I to be his interns for the summer.
We asked him the limitations of the role, and he told us that there weren’t any. He was going to be teaching heavily in our adult service and needed someone to carry the load throughout the week for a while. It would be a test of our ministry and people skills.
David and I immediately began planning and scheming. How could we make this the best summer ever?
We planned out our games. Will it blend? Where we blended fast food meals and had teams of students drink them. Strobe light capture the flag, where two students collided and one had to go to the hospital for stitches. So much dodgeball. A night of testimonies. A night of speaking about the persecuted church. A night of just worship. A Sunday morning where we only listened to Christian Hardcore music for worship.
It was amazing.
Josh had nothing more to teach us. We had learned to be relational. We had learned how to invite other people in. We learned how to talk about God and ask hard questions. We learned how to lead, and now it was his turn to send us off.
11 years ago, a stranger invited me out to lunch on a whim. Not knowing what conversations would be about. Not knowing how grounding and directional those lunches would be. 8 years ago, a different stranger entered middle school ministry. Ready to help middle school students find and follow Jesus. Investing in them while also working as a full time teacher. For years he put his blood and sweat and tears into this ministry, in the hopes that maybe some day a student would rise up like Timothy and carry on the traditions and lessons to others.
Today, a new person steps into the same role. Offering the same invitation. Will you walk with me? Will you be a part of my life? Will you let me be a part of yours?
As students, you need people leading you along. You’ve heard us say it before, but you have wonderful adult and student leaders in this room. People who are here every week or as often as they can be in the hopes of doing life with you and helping lead you towards Jesus. Some of them are much older than you, and some of them are only a few years older, but all of them are here because they loves students and they love God.
Surrounding you are also your parents. People that you don’t see just on Tuesdays or Sundays, but people you get to go home with. People who can invest in you 24/7. People who can support and encourage you when you need it most.
Will you ask these people to be a part of your life?
Will you ask these people to be like Paul?
To walk with you. To come alongside of you for support.
To help lead you towards Jesus.
Because you can’t do it alone.
It started with a question
It continues with a response
Will you walk with God?
Will you invite others to help guide you to Him?