The last five years have seen a lot of changes in my neighborhood. After 25 years living in the same house, it stands to reason that things would evolve over time. But for two decades God blessed us by surrounding our home with some long-term, incredible neighbors. Most were retired, most were believers, and all loved on our family in a myriad of ways: helping out with various remodel projects (of which there are always a dearth for my home-improvement loving hubby), having dinners together, watching movies, playing card games, taking care of our dog, allowing our kids to come over to visit or “help” with small chores, giving advice or even unexpected gifts, or just having a friendly moment by the mailboxes.
One woman in particular became like family to us. She and her husband took care of us as newlyweds. But after a heart attack made her a widow, we bonded even more. When our house needed tenting due to a discovery of termites, we lived with her for 3 days. When my husband had his own struggling business for a while, she hired him a couple of times. When our adjoining fence was in need of replacement, we took the dilapidated wooden structure down all together and had several years with no fence at all. Our kids loved the expanded back yard. Our dog loved playing with her dog. Everyone would wander into open back doors whenever – usually we did more of the wandering, including our Cairn terrier looking for possible food leftover by her poodle-friend.
But the best thing about our more than 20-year relationship with our neighbor was the way we could just talk. She had a porch swing on her back patio. Every so often when I’d go out to the school room or be working in the backyard, she’d call me over to sit. Sometimes, if she hadn’t seen me outside for a while, she would phone me and ask me to drop by for a cup of coffee. We’d chat about everything and anything to the soothing, mesmerizing sway of the swing. I’d find my husband there on Saturday afternoons – usually after he had repaired something in her house. I’d find my son there talking about books, movies and plans for the future.
Most often I’d find my daughter there, talking about animals, school, the migraine headaches they had in common, collecting, trips, family, hopes, dreams, and things of God. Though the age difference was vast, she connected with and poured into my daughter in ways we will never comprehend. But what was communicated lovingly from that older and wiser woman to my now graduating girl is a depth of mentoring that only a desire for seeing God’s best in the life of another can manifest.
Well, that plus time on a well-used porch swing.
The book of 2 Timothy marks Paul’s last written communication prior to his death. According to tradition, soon after dictating this missive Paul was beheaded on the Ostian Way, west of Rome.1 The point is he knew it was coming. There was only so much time left. What remained to say? This final letter to Timothy represents those last-minute words Paul wanted those he loved to remember above all else.
DAYS 1 and 2
I. Read 2 Timothy 1:1-5; Acts 16:1; Acts 20:16-17, 36-38; 2 Corinthians 3:2-3; 2 Timothy 3:14-15.
Paul is no longer under house arrest as before where people came and went, listening to his teaching. Paul is now in an actual prison – a dungeon. Darkness becomes its own prison, and Paul finds himself often feeling very alone.
Ever the faithful bond servant, Paul begins his salutation talking about the will of God and the promise of life in Christ, addressing it to what has morphed from “my true child in the faith” in his first letter to “my beloved son.” The Bible never indicates Paul had any children. But Paul took the role of spiritual father very seriously. He deeply loved the young man God had placed in his life.
And as he fondly writes to this young man, Paul reminds Timothy of his original two mentors, his mom and grandma, Eunice and Lois. These two women had an important impact on Timothy’s life. We know from Acts that Eunice was his mother, but here in 2 Timothy 1:5 is the only mention of his grandmother Lois. Eunice was a Jewess married to a Greek husband, who may have passed away by the time the apostle came on the scene. Paul knew and admired the deep faith and testimony of both women who apparently came to know Christ under his own ministry. Obviously they laid an amazing foundation for Timothy.
1. What can we say about the mentoring ability of Lois and Eunice from Timothy’s character we’ve observed up to this point?
2. Build a word picture of your own mom or spiritual mother.
3. How will you be remembered or known looking at the influence you’ve had on others?
II. Read 1 Samuel 1:1-28, 2:1-11, 18-20.
Parents are the first mentors a child will ever have. For moms, especially, there are many hats to wear: cook, diaper changer, cleaning lady, disciplinarian, teacher, chauffer, torn-clothing mender, hidden-shoe finder, librarian, time manager, calendar keeper, tear drier, atmosphere thermostat, attitude thermometer and the list goes on. But the role of mentor runs the gamut of a child’s life, becoming deeper and more prominent as the years go by.
Part of being female means an ingrained desire to parent and nurture – to nourish, to promote growth, to bring up.2 This desire manifests itself in different ways and at different levels. For those who are moms, God gives the strength and wisdom to love your maturing children through mentoring. For those who’ve never been a biological or an adoptive mother, He offers a place for that feminine nurturing spirit in mentoring. For those who have never had a spouse and yet have a unique insight to Godly womanhood, try mentoring. For those who are still anticipating marriage and potential motherhood, help younger girls by mentoring. God doesn’t put in hearts that which He won’t use. It’s just that the outlet for the mothering nurturing spirit may not always look exactly like we anticipated.
1. In the familiar story of Hannah in I Samuel, we find an example of the heart of motherhood being fulfilled in not exactly the way we expect. What were some of the obstacles for Hannah?
2. What phrases speak to the longing ache to nurture and be a mother?
3. What did Hannah finally do and what was the result, before she had an answer? (verse 18)
4. Write one thing that impacts you about Hannah’s paying her vow or the accompanying prayer. (1:24-28 and 2:1-10)
5. What evidences of mentoring do you see both before and after Samuel went to the temple?
III. Read 2 Timothy 1: 6-7; 1 Chronicles 13, 15:1-25, 16:5 & 38, 26:4-8 & 15.
When Paul exhorts Timothy to “kindle afresh” or “keep ablaze,” it is regarding spiritual gifts which are really tools for us to partner in the body of Christ in building God’s kingdom together. As with any gift, it needs to be opened to be fully appreciated. And as with any tool, there can often be more than one application for its use.
In 1 Chronicles we find a small story woven through the narrative on King David’s reign about a man named Obed-Edom. He was given a responsibility and his faithfulness resulted in great blessing for himself, for his family and, ultimately, for his entire nation.
1. From verse 7 in the 2 Timothy passage, what has God provided to help keep ablaze the gift He’s given?
2. How did Obed-Edom glorify God? What character traits and possible spiritual gifts can you identify from Obed-Edom’s attitudes, actions and assignments?
3. What task have you been given that needs attending?
4. How can you begin to kindle afresh your gift this week?
DAYS 3 and 4
I. Read: 2 Timothy 1:8-12.
At the top of a prominent mountain you can usually find a surveyor’s mark. The round, metal disc pinpoints the highest spot on the mountain, and some record the peak’s precise coordinates and elevation. Sometimes a second “mark” can be found nearby – an empty tin or coffee can, perhaps. Depending on the amount of space available inside you might find several business cards or a simple list of dated signatures of others who’ve made the trek to the top before you.
The larger receptacles might even have handwritten notes from people – the greatest finds. Some will be very short, gushing over the view or briefly noting feelings of accomplishment. But the most interesting, by far, are the notes detailing what happened along the way. Deer spotted. A rock formation noted. The tracks of a bear. A section of trail that was particularly difficult or beautiful. Barrenness due to a forest fire decades earlier. New, lush growth celebrated in later accounts. There’s a connectedness with past hikers you’ll most likely never meet.
We all look forward to those feelings of completion and exhilaration when you reach the top of the mountain. But what makes the trip so much sweeter is seeing the points of interest, learning and recognizing the beauty all along the way – and discovering the wisdom of others who’ve already been there.
1. What does it mean to be “ashamed” of the gospel?
2. According to what were we called (verse 9)?
3. What are some of the words and phrases this passage uses to explain what Christ has done?
4. Imagine the top of a mountain with a marker that has “Gospel” stamped on it. Then, a little to the left, in a crevice between two boulders is a small tin, the word “suffer” scratched on the lid. The second half of verse 12 is the encouragement and wisdom Paul put there from his journey up the mountain for others to find. Write that out here. (Challenge: memorize the verse.)
II. Re-read 2 Timothy 1:13
Certain words tend to catch your attention when you read them. A master-wordsmith, Paul uses two of note: retain and guard. We’ll start with the first one. Retain has the basic meaning of “have” or “has” and yet translates in a variety of ways from “keep,” “obtain” and “own,” to “possess” and “hold fast.”3
1. What does Paul tell Timothy to retain in verse 13? How is he to do it?
2. Skim through 1 Timothy 3:9; I Corinthians 11:2; 2 Thessalonians 2:15; Titus 1:9; Revelation12:17 for the use of the words “hold,” “keep” or even “maintained.” Don’t get too bogged down, but simply look at the different applications knowing that these are all the same Greek word. Did you discover anything new or thought-provoking?
3. In the second half of the Gospel of John, several chapters are devoted to when Jesus is encouraging and urging His disciples for one of the last times before His crucifixion. John 14:21 says, “He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.” (NASB) In this verse He uses the same Greek word for “retain” that Paul does, but in the form of “has.” It gives a picture of ownership and possessing something for oneself. From this verse, the person who loves Christ takes ownership of what?
4. Of the “sound words” you heard recently, which ones need to be retained or taken ownership of in order for you to be a better mentor? (They could be from the pulpit or from your own Bible study)
III. Re-read 2 Timothy 1:14; Psalm 25:20; 39:1; 91:11; 121:8; 141:3; Proverbs 2:11; 4:6, 13.
Another power-packed word Paul uses is “guard.” Guard can also be translated as “keep” or “kept” but it emphasizes ideas like “observe,” “watch” “preserve,” “abstain from.” A facet I love is “to keep from being snatched away, preserved safe and unimpaired.”4
In the Old Testament, writers used the word “guard”
- when talking about the sword-wielding angel in front of the Tree of Life,
- when warning against associating with false gods,
- in military terms with assignments and during battles, and
- with God Himself and His commitment to His people.
It conjures images of honor, safety, protection and justice.
Like its New Testament counterpart, the Hebrew word for guard has a sense of urgency and a unique personal nature to it, a sense of keeping on the alert. One of the duties of a mentor is to help guard and then make strong your mentee as she takes the reigns in guarding and allowing God to be the ultimate overseer of every aspect of her life.
1. What is Timothy to guard in verse 14? How is he to do this?
2. The Psalmist describes things to guard and things which will guard you. In which area do you need the most work?
3. What we struggle with the most will become that which we can best use to help others as we allow God’s hand to strengthen and change our perspective. Write out one or two of the verses you read today which speak to you in such a way that it can be a tool for you to share with someone you are mentoring.
I. Read 2 Timothy 1:15-18.
Contrary to Shakespeare’s famous quote, “A rose by any other name would smell just as sweet,” there’s a lot in a name. Sometimes, a child will bear her name in honor of a relative far down the family tree. Perhaps the name matches that of a close family friend. Many find themselves named after a great man or woman of God, listed in Scripture or in the annals of missions history. These monikers provide perspective and pay tribute to the past. But sometimes a name will look ahead, the meaning bestowed by a parent full of dreams of the future for the son or daughter – or a reflection of the present.
At the end of chapter 1 in 2 Timothy, Paul mentions three names: Phygelus, Hermogenes and Onesiphorus. Phygelus means “little fugitive.” Hermogenes means “lucky born” or “born of Mercury.” Neither offers a very promising aspiration, to say the least. The last, Onesiphorus, means “bringing profit.” As we go through today’s study, we’ll find out how the men bearing these names affected Paul’s life.
1. This is the only mention of Phygelus and Hermogenes in all of Scripture. What do we know from this little bit of information?
2. Why do you think Paul mentioned them to Timothy?
3. What are some of the things we know about Onesiphorus listed in verses 16 to 18?
4. Verse 18 says that Timothy knew “very well what services he [Onesiphorus] rendered…” The word “to serve” means – “To minister, to attend to anything that may serve another’s interest.”5 Knowing Paul’s situation, how might have Onesiphorus lived up to his name?
A mentor teaches how to serve.
A mentor points out people to aspire to be like.
A mentor is not ashamed of the difficult situations and circumstances –
Of others or themselves.
II. Read 1 Chronicles 2:55, 4:9-10.
In Biblical times, the meanings of given names were often prophetic. Jabez was the head of a Calebite family. His name, also the name of a town located near Bethlehem in Judah at that time, is translated “sorrow” or “pain.”6 The only account we have of Jabez centers around his prayer asking that he would be prevented from living out his negative name. We don’t know the exact details of how it played out, but we know that God answered his prayer.
1. What does Scripture tell us about Jabez and his brothers?
2. Which of Jabez’s requests most resonates with you?
3. Is there something connected with your name – either meaning or heritage – that you wish could be changed? What has God done in your life to begin a healing or a bringing of newness?
Properly guarding what had been given on the part of Onesiphorus produced in him a desire to seek out Paul and a desire to serve. We may never know the impact we will have on those around us. Little things are what will be remembered. A devoted heart will be what is emulated. Paul was running out of time, getting to the top of the mountain, and isolated from most. Yet he showed that a mentor uses whatever time and circumstance is given to invest and help “kindle afresh.” What does your “porch swing” look like? Clean off the cobwebs, sit down with a young neighbor, family member, or gal from church and discover the joys of investing and nurturing as a mentor.
1. Ryrie, Dr. Charles C. Introduction to 2 Timothy. Ryrie Study Bible, New American Standard. Moody Press. Chicago. 1995. Pg. 1926.
1. Webster, Noah. An American Dictionary of the English Language. 1828. Entry for “nurture.”
3. Greek Lexicon :: G2192 (NASB). www.blueletterbible.org.
4. Greek Lexicon :: G5442 (KJV). www.blueletterbible.org.
5. Greek Lexicon :: G1247 (NASB). www.blueletterbible.org
6. Hebrew Lexicon :: H3258 (NASB). www.blueletterbible.org.
[button caption=”Lesson Download” link=”https://thriveministry.box.com/s/7qrf2l4webh45ns39ab89iwunzxftjwy”][/button]