Just some early morning thoughts from me to you…
“Timothy, my son, the instructions I am giving you are based on what some prophets once said about you. If you follow these instructions, you will fight like a good soldier. You will be faithful and have a clear conscience. Some people have made a mess of their faith because they didn’t listen to their consciences.”
I Timothy 1:18-19 (CEV)
I remember when we took Nathan to college for the first time, and after being with him for a few days, finally left him there to begin this new phase in his journey. And I remember worrying a good bit more than usual as Lynda and I began the drive home.
Had I taught him enough? What had I forgotten to show him or tell him? Did I, as his Dad, did we as his parents, instill in him the right values and sense of right and wrong to carry him into this unknown frontier with the strength and clarity of purpose he would need to stand and thrive? Had we undergirded him with love, giving a sense of courage to step out knowing we and God would always be there with him?
But the introspection which overcame me as we headed home that day had started much earlier than that. I remember making decisions as to whether to introduce him to this and not to that. Whether to present this particular thing, allow this particular movie or music, or allow him to be a part of something with others. I, we, were always trying to make sure to keep and protect him from things which would harm him.
In a similar role now as a dad, Nathan has been, and continues to go through the same questioning now with his two girls, especially his elder daughter. Is this okay for her to see? What should she learn? Where should she go to school? What opportunities should he provide her to help and protect her and continue to encourage her to allow the gifts God has given her to bloom in an environment that would allow that to occur? He and her Mom have been given—in sacred trust—her life and that of her sister, to care for, mentor in Godly ways and paths, nurture, inspire and protect.
In the New Testament, Paul exemplifies integrity through his mentoring relationship with Timothy. Throughout their relationship, Paul makes sure that Timothy is equipped and empowered to do the work of leading the church in its formative stages. Paul tells Timothy things like: “fan the flame, keep the faith, endure struggles like a good solider, run from temptation, and press on through every challenge.”
Paul understood the responsibility he had before him to “pass on” the rich experience and wisdom which—and in this specific case to Timothy—God had brought into his life.
It took time. It took being together. It took face-to-face moments of sharing, teaching, struggling, questioning, probing, searching and dreaming.
But in today’s culture, our friendship and mentoring interactions seem to be more about experiences that we snap a photo of and post on Instagram or Facebook. It is difficult to find the intentional, instructional, accountable, and mentoring conversations in our social-media driven world similar to those we see in Paul’s words to Timothy.
You may have a lot of Facebook friends and cute friendship “poses” on Instagram, but in those settings who are you influencing or being influenced by? What are you learning? What are you seeing as you pass from one page to another on whatever electronic media tool and a myriad of other applications you have before you? Who is passing on what experiences or suggestions to you? Is someone you don’t even know, whose values you don’t even share, having an influence and impact on you, and the on your children and others for whom you have a mentoring, nurturing and sacred responsibility?
Having integrity in our relationships requires that we take responsibility for them. Integrity in those relationships manifests itself when those relationships are lifting, encouraging, God-honoring and growing. Having integrity in the context of those sacred trusts within our home and with others who count on us raises the stakes even higher. Those take even more time one-on-one with each other. They are not meant to be self-serving, but rather, they must be sacrificially “other-serving” and life-giving as we seek to lift others up to be all that God intended for them to be and to do—just like Paul did for Timothy.
Are you passing on to someone else what God would want you to pass on? Are you allowing all that enters the mind of your entrusted “Timothy” to be edifying to them in their growth as a child of God and glorifying to God who created it all and watches over it all? Are you allowing someone to pass on to you and to those sacred trusts, less than what will honor God, or all that will honor God?
I remember when we took Nathan to college for the first time and after being with him for a few days, finally left him there to begin this new phase in his journey.
And I remember worrying a good bit more than usual as Lynda and I began the drive home.
Just something to think about today and every day for the rest of our lives.
In His Name—Scott
Copyright 2012. Scott L. Whitaker. All rights reserved.