Here are some scenarios of hypothetical mentoring opportunities to think about:
– Things were a mess. Their marriage had steadily grown colder. Her kids weren’t meshing with his kids. Financial issues abounded. They were moving to a less desirable, but less expensive part of town after having lived in their neighborhood for close to five years. Her oldest daughter was making awful choices, being utterly disrespectful and rebellious. Her own choices from several years ago were catching up with her. Church was no longer fulfilling. She didn’t know how to be a godly mom; trying to figure out what it meant to be a godly wife was making her head spin.
And she was looking to you for mentoring because she had no where else to go.
– Then there is the recent high school graduate that comes to you with frustrations about her parents. She feels alone and underappreciated. They don’t understand her. She desperately wants to stay home and volunteer in the church’s nursery ministry for a year before heading off to college – if she decides college is for her – but her parents will hear nothing of it and insist she get a “proper education.” They are both non-Christians and have been trying to get her back to “reality” since she became a believer three years ago. She knows God says to honor your parents, but feels they are dishonoring her.
She’s hoping you would have time for lunch next week.
– A certain gal approaches you after service on Sunday. Her elderly mother who has been living with her for the past few months is in the final stages of cancer. Hospice was brought in yesterday. Her husband is away on business often, her grown children have busy lives and are mostly unavailable, and her one sibling (though he lives far away) hasn’t been real supportive either. You know this, and much more, because she often complains to you about the matter. She’s hoping you could be on call, anytime day or night, so you could come to her house and lend a hand.
And could she phone you this afternoon?
– And then there’s the one to whom you’ve listened, advised, and counseled on a certain struggle she’s having. You’ve taken her to Bible studies, a retreat, and invited her to your home one-on-one and with a small group of girls her age. You’ve alternately bit your tongue and given her a good tongue lashing. She doesn’t seem bothered by frankness, and in some areas she even seems to be slowly growing. But this one issue won’t go away.
Now she wants to go through a book study with you on a completely different subject.
Sometimes mentoring is messy. When we walk alongside someone we might need to wear old clothes and tall rubber boots to slog through the mud. We’re going to cry with them, get frustrated with their unresponsiveness, have some sleepless nights praying over them, and have to watch our own attitudes because of them. But it all comes as part of the package when you intentionally choose to see someone through the eyes of Christ, love them as He would, and be a mentor.
Imagine what it was like for Timothy, as a young pastor and mentor already dealing with disapproval over his age (1 Timothy 4:12) and over his unyielding gospel stance, having to wade through the messes of his very young Church. Problems and issues abounded. But Scripture makes one thing very clear: Timothy didn’t do it on his own. The same Holy Spirit, who miraculously transformed Christian-hunter Saul of Tarsus into unrelenting, faith-filled mentor Paul, was the same Spirit working within Timothy’s life and circumstances. Crisis and ultimately suffering are part of the job when it comes to serving Christ. But rather than revulsion, Paul treats it as an honor and even gives several examples of noble suffering.
DAYS 1 and 2
I. Read 2 Timothy 2:1-2; Acts 18:23-28.
Of all the verses that depict mentoring in the Bible, 2 Timothy 2:2 is probably the most concise. Paul writes in the imperative, sounding the charge for Timothy to grow and guide others for a purpose. Timothy is not only to lead people to Christ, but he is to train men to do what he does. There is a sense of walking alongside, showing them how so that they will do the same for others.
This chapter begins with “therefore” or “then,” so we should look back at the previous verses to see what it is “there for”. Quickly summarizing, Phygelus and Hermogenes deserted Paul, having failed to guard the treasure entrusted to them. Without a heart purposed to follow a pattern of sound teaching through faith in Christ (2 Timothy 1:13), others could also abandon the church as these two did. Proper, loving mentoring is one way to avoid this end.
From the Acts passage, Apollos’ relationship with Priscilla and Aquila beautifully illustrates mentoring. Obviously brilliant and a talented orator, Apollos was trying faithfully to preach truth – he just didn’t understand truth in its entirety. The example shows that gifted, perhaps even intimidating people need to be mentored.
1. What did Paul instruct Timothy to be in verse 1?
2. Which phrase does Paul use in verse 2 to indicate accountability?
3. What kind of men is Timothy to find to mentor? What should this imply about their attitudes?
4. In Acts 18:24, as Apollos first arrives in Ephesus, how does the Scripture describe him?
5. What had Apollos been doing up to that point? What was holding back his ministry?
6. God’s Word doesn’t come back void. But we need to be intentional to find teachable people – and be teachable ourselves, in turn – who will pass it on in truth and wisdom. Think about all Apollos was able to accomplish after being mentored. In what ways does the example of Priscilla and Aquilla encourage you today?
II. Read 2 Timothy 2:3-6; Romans 8:16-18.
Christians should expect suffering. Romans 8:16-17 says, “For his Holy Spirit speaks to us deep in our hearts and tells us that we are God’s children. And since we are His children, we will share his treasures – for everything God gives to his Son, Christ, is ours, too. But if we are to share His glory, we must also share His suffering.” (NLT) Paul knew this well and mentions it often in his letters. But the weight of suffering comes not just from our individual burden. I Corinthians 12:26 says of the church, “And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.” (NASB) Included in the idea of community and intentional mentoring is that while we walk alongside we “bear one another’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2). Investing in another means we also divide and share the load in order to more fully accomplish the task of 2 Timothy 2:2.
So, in this passage, Paul gives Timothy three examples of how to approach this life of suffering and load-bearing. The first is the readied soldier as he rises for battle. The second is the competing athlete who accepts the challenge. And the third is the hard-working farmer as he fulfills the work. Each shows how to approach our personal suffering as Christ followers as well as how to encourage and mentor those God has placed in our lives.
1. What is the soldier involved in and with what should he not be concerned?
2. Who does the soldier try to please?
3. How must the athlete compete? What will this achieve?
4. What does the farmer attain?
5. The soldier, the athlete and the farmer all obtained rewards for faithful service. In what way could Romans 8:18 further encourage a struggling woman in your sphere of influence?
DAYS 3 and 4
I. Read 2 Timothy 2:7-13; for the idea of working and producing, read 2 Corinthians 4:17, Ephesians 6:13; Philippians 2:12-13; James 1:3
If you were to set up an advertising campaign to sign up new mentors, the idea of suffering on behalf of others might not be the most attractive recruiting method. But as verse 7 reminds us to consider – not dismiss – these things carefully because the Lord will provide understanding for what Paul is trying to say. He tells us in verse 8 to remember: Jesus rose from the dead, fulfilling prophecy, according to “my gospel.” This powerful choice of words, used in virtually every translation, shows Paul’s deep, personal connection with Christ’s sacrificial work. It was the basis for every aspect of what he spoke and wrote about. It was the basis for his very life. It was why he was imprisoned. But even though he was held captive, the Word itself could never be kept hidden away in chains (verse 9). And because of this, Paul bears his hardship and goes on.
1. From verse 10, for whom does Paul endure?
2. Salvation is just the beginning for a Christ follower. Re-read Philippians 2:12-13. What verb or verb phrase do you see repeated that illustrates an active partnership between Christians and the Holy Spirit?
3. Paul gives another “trustworthy statement” in verses 11-13. List the four “if – then” segments. What encouragement and warning do they provide?
4. As a mentor, what within Paul’s words to Timothy can help you continue on today?
II. Read 2 Timothy 2:14-21; for the concept of “stand” read, Habakkuk 2:1; Romans 5:2; 1 Corinthians 16:13; Ephesians 6:13; Philippians 4:1.
For those acquainted with the Awana program, 2 Timothy 2:15 should look very familiar. This is the core verse for Awana International. There’s no better foundation for why it’s important to memorize and apply Scripture. We can present ourselves to God through Christ as someone unashamedly ready for any situation because of attentive, accurate study of His Word. So, as a good spiritual dad and mentor, Paul reminds Timothy (and us) to always go back to the basics. Study. Don’t assume. Analyze everything through the lens of Scripture. Anyone can fall into false thinking, wrong approaches, selfish teaching or confusion due to circumstances – often in subtle ways – if we neglect what Paul is saying. We need to stand and help those we are mentoring to learn to stand as well.
1. In verses 17-18 we read about Hymenaeus (also mentioned in 1 Timothy 1:20) and Philetus who were probably pushing Gnosticism, which taught that the doctrine of the resurrection was only allegorical or spiritual.1 Why was this a problem?
2. Many translations begin verse 19 with the term, “Nevertheless.” How does this word encourage you?
3. What are the two phrases that are the seal of God’s solid foundation?
4. What are the vessels named by Paul and how might some of these have been used?
5. When it comes to people, we know from the life of Onesiumus (week 9) that changing from a vessel of dishonor to one of honor is possible. How does this happen, according to verse 21 and what is the result?
6. From the verses above we can discern what it means to stand spiritually. What fresh insights do these verses give you?
III. Read 2 Timothy 2:22-26.
Paul is urging Timothy to stand with those under him – as encourager, advocate, protector and teacher. At times we need help to stand against the tempter, but Paul also reminds that there are times we need to run from temptation, to flee. Then, verse 22 points out that we are to pursue excellence in our Christian walk – “… with those who call upon the Lord from a pure heart.” (NASB) [Emphasis mine] Mentors provide a safe haven. They can build up and stand alongside when the culture says give in. They run next to a mentee, setting a strong pace to match, and modeling how to stay on course. Author Donna Otto said that mentors don’t need some impressive resume, but simply a “true, vibrant, contagious spirituality.”2
1. What character traits does Paul list in verses 23-24 for someone genuinely serving the Lord?
2. What does the word “snare” indicate about the enemy?
3. At the end of chapter 2, Paul talks about being held captive. We automatically think of non-believers, but Christians can become trapped by Satan’s schemes, as well. When truth is twisted, our thoughts about God and who we are in Him can warp. How are we to instruct those who oppose us (verse 25)? Why?
4. Read Ephesians 4:17-24. How are we to be different, think differently as a believer?
5. When has someone helped you stand or flee so that you were able to change your thoughts or actions and avoid the enemy’s snares?
I. Read 2 Timothy 3:1-5.
The day after my son first got his driver’s permit, we headed out on a trip half way across the country for my husband to attend a seminar and the rest of us to spend time with friends. It was February. The snowy, mountain highways were a challenge to even seasoned drivers, and here was our son trying to remain calm as he slowly drove through wind and storm, passing several accidents along the way. It was the best chance for him to learn about something our hot town never sees: black ice. It looks like wet asphalt, can cause a car going as slow as 10 mph to be in danger, and in a snow or ice storm, can form when you least expect it.3 All the while, my husband sat in the seat next to my son giving instructions, suggestions and sometimes sharp warnings.
Looking back, it was the perfect example of mentoring though extreme duress. Though my husband may have felt like grabbing the wheel, he never did. Using his expertise, he counseled my son through the dangers surrounding him, verbally helping him guide the car – which held his entire family – through conditions my then 17-year-old could never have anticipated.
For Paul, the black ice of the road as preacher was the mass corruption of truth within and without which etches away at the Body. As we begin a new chapter, we see that part of suffering is the constant vigilance it takes to watch for and discern false teaching. Paul’s been through this before in many of his letters. So have Peter, James and Jude. That deadly black ice of those who would twist and add to Scripture has existed since the Church’s birth.
This was Paul’s last chance to give his son words of warning to watch out and be prepared for what will come.
1. The list in verses 2-5 of what men will become in the difficult times of the last days is long. Write out each character trait, carefully studying each one as you do.
2. Some of the traits Paul catalogs are surprising. Which trait or traits gave you pause to consider? Why?
3. In verse 5, how does Paul counsel Timothy to react to such people?
II. Read 2 Timothy 3:6-9 and skim Exodus 7-9 focusing on “magicians.” You can skim through chapter 12 if you’d like to finish out this familiar story of Moses, God’s ten plagues on Egypt, and the imposters who came against them.
There’s an old saying that I’m not sure to whom it should be credited. It basically says that, in a home, the man is the head and the woman is the heart. That doesn’t mean that every marriage and every family operate exactly the same, but this basic tenet seems to hold true. I say this to lay a foundation to decry the notion that some women have – I know a few personally and I’ve read the writings of others – who believe Paul to be some chauvinistic president of the He-Man Woman-Haters Club. Immediately after describing and telling Timothy to avoid certain people who have a staunchly anti-God agenda, Paul tells Timothy the favorite strategy of such people: seek out weak-willed, idle, vulnerable, silly (KJV word) women. The Greek word is actually in a highly contemptuous form, well-represented by the translation, “silly.”4 And it’s the only time this word is used in the entire New Testament.
But why is this so important? Go back to the idea that the woman is the heart of the home. Couple this with the fact that these false teachers, idea-mongers or whatever you’d like to call them are not coming into houses. They’re coming into households or family groups. (See the difference for “house” between uses in, Acts 4:34, 1 Timothy 5:13, and 2 John 1:10, versus John 4:53, Acts 10:2, and 1 Corinthians 16:15.) It seems that these people we are to avoid at all costs are worming their way into the hearts of family members via the wives, the moms. Thankfully, it’s not all women, wives or moms. There were specific tendencies in some particular instances that don’t characterize ladies across the board. But it also emphasizes the importance Paul – and God – places on the viewpoint, heart-health, and influence of women in the family and, ultimately, the church.
1. What are the traits that characterize these “silly women”?
2. How do you see some or all of these in culture today? Be specific.
3. In Exodus we get a bigger picture of Jannes and Jambres who are given as examples of those who oppose truth. Though unnamed in the Old Testament, how many times are they mentioned as Pharaoh’s magicians? What are some of the things they were able to do? When did their “magic” become ineffective?
4. What is encouraging in 2 Timothy 3:9 regarding the influence of the person Jannes and Jambres represent?
Suffering comes in all forms: mental, physical, emotional, spiritual. The attacks are relentless at times. But one thing is certain – when we learn to stand, when we’re willing to flee, when we can look in the face of foolishness and call it for what it is, when we stop allowing situations to crop up that lead to temptation and sin, the suffering that remains is bearable and honorable. Be diligent. Be someone who doesn’t have to be ashamed. Be a student of the Word who can stand up to false teachers. Be willing to share your expertise and walk alongside someone heading into the storm. You may just have to get taller boots.
1. Ryrie, Charles C., Ryrie Study Bible, Expanded Edition, New American Standard Bible, 1995 Update, Moody Press, Chicago, commentary on 2 Timothy 2:17.
2. Otto, Donna. Finding a Mentor, Being a Mentor.
3. Icyroadssafety.com and Howstuffworks.com
4. Greek Lexicon: G1133 (NASB). Blue Letter Bible.
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