“Entrust what you heard me say in the presence of many others as witnesses to faithful people who will be competent to teach others as well.”
“Entrust what you heard me say in the presence of many others as witnesses to faithful people who will be competent to teach others as well.”
We have focused on long-distance races as an illustration of the race of the Christian life. But there is another race picture that has great parallel, the relay! As we know, passing the baton from one runner to the next is crucial to the success of the team. Each runner must be sure that the succeeding runner has the baton.
As we consider the time between Jesus’ first coming and his return, we realize that the continuation of the faith depends on each succeeding generation. We are responsible to pass it on to those who follow, who will then pass it on to others.
Paul’s life story indicates his whole-hearted belief in raising up a new generation of faithful Christ-followers. We’ll see it more clearly as we look at this week’s lesson.
When we last looked at the chronological story of Paul’s race, he was under house arrest in Rome. There is evidence from his epistles that he was eventually released and continued his missionary journeys. However, at some point he was imprisoned again in Rome and executed around 66 or 67 A.D. His final letters (1 Tim., Titus, and 2 Tim.) were written from prison to men whom he had trained in ministry.
From the time he began his first mission trip, Paul included younger men as apprentices. If you remember, he and Barnabas took John Mark with them on that initial journey (Acts 13:5). When Paul refused to take Mark again because he had abandoned his responsibility and left for home (Acts 13:13; 15:37-39), he replaced him by picking up Timothy on his travels (Acts 16:1-3).
1. Read the following verses and write down the names of those whom Paul was apparently influencing in ministry. If there is any information given about the specific work they were doing at the time, include that.
a. Rom. 16:1
b. 1 Cor. 4:17; 16:17
d. Eph. 6:21-22
f. Col. 4:7-14
h. Titus 1:4-5; 3:12-13
j. 2 Tim. 1: 16; 4:9-12, 20-21 (I left this one for last because it was Paul’s final letter and he mentions some of those whom he has already mentioned in previous epistles.)
2. Summarize what these verses have shown you about Paul and his commitment to the next generation. In what ways did he invest in their lives? Did anything surprise you?
Extra Training: Look for some commentary on Paul and his mentoring or training of others. Or read about Timothy as his longest and most well-known spiritual son.
3. Sharing question: Who has influenced your race for Christ? Perhaps you would consider her a mentor or perhaps not, but she has passed the baton on to you in some way, expecting you to step up as a believer. In what ways did she make a difference in your life? Share that with your group. If this person is unaware of this, write her a note and thank her.
4. Responding to God: Thank God for those who have influenced you to run well for Jesus. Write a prayer or poem, which includes your feelings about what they have done for you.
The epistles of 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus were not only Paul’s final letters, but they were all written to pastors, men whom he had trained and sent out in ministry. His last words were focused on the next generation; he was completing his work of passing on the baton.
Although you are not a pastor, just think of Paul as working with younger men who were called to the same kind of work that he did. The principles of mentoring work in any situation, with our children or younger women who face the same challenges of life that we have faced.
5. Read these verses and write down how they may have encouraged or challenged Timothy and Titus in their races:
Extra Training: Read the entire book of 1 Timothy, considering the ways you see Paul encourage, teach, and challenge this spiritual son. What can you learn from him about mentoring others?
7. Sharing question: What scares you, if anything, when you hear the word “mentor” or think of “mentoring”? Does the term “spiritual mothering” have any different connotations for you as you consider what mothering is all about? Describe what might be involved.
8. What do you learn from Titus 2:3-5 about your responsibility as a woman to pass the baton? Is there a command for you to follow? What is it? What areas of mentoring are included?
9. Sharing question: Have you given time and friendship to a woman younger in the faith? As we see from Paul’s example as he traveled, this can be done in groups as well as one-on-one—even as part of this Bible study small group! Have you seen yourself within the group as part of God’s plan to pass the baton and influence other women through your own life and experiences? If you are a younger woman, this may be your time to learn, but recognize that you are there to bless these other women as you learn from them. Share your thoughts.
10. Responding to God: Ask God to show you what it means to pass the baton to your children and to younger women. Pray for the courage to fulfill the responsibility God has given you to do so. Write down your thoughts.
Today we will focus on 2 Timothy, Paul’s final letter. It is a particularly personal book, and we can learn much about influencing believers younger in the faith from Paul’s example. If you are a mother with children at home, consider how this all applies to that relationship as well.
If you have time, read all of 2 Timothy thoughtfully as your Extra Training for both today and tomorrow. You have two days to read this book of only 4 chapters.
11. Read the following verses in 2 Tim. and write down how you see Paul encourage, challenge, or train Timothy. How was he acting as a spiritual father to Timothy? How did he pass on the baton?
12. Sharing question: What do you learn from Paul’s example in the previous verses about influencing someone younger than yourself? Consider the various ways he exhorted, etc. rather than the specific words.
13. Sharing question: Apply Paul’s exhortations to Timothy to your own life and Christian race. Which of these verses most encourages you? Why?
14. Sharing question: Consider your Christian life and experiences. Honestly evaluate how God has worked in your life and how you can use that to influence younger women. What have you learned about God’s character, about his faithfulness, about his love that you could share with another woman? What have you learned about raising children? About marriage? About living in the workplace as a believer? Share one thing that comes to mind with your group.
15. Responding to God: If you don’t already have a woman or women whom you might call a spiritual friend or daughter, ask God to bring someone into your life. If you do have such a person, pray for her and her spiritual walk. Draw a picture of you and a younger woman as you share life. Sometimes when we picture ourselves doing something, it seems possible.
Today will be your last day to study something new because tomorrow will be a review of what God has done through the entire study. Let’s read today about Paul’s completion of the race he had been given.
Read 2 Tim. 4:6-8.
16. In v. 6 Paul described his life as a poured-out offering, which suggests a drink offering. As you have done this study, in what ways have you seen Paul pour out his life as an offering to God?
17. In what three ways did Paul describe the finish of his life race in v. 7? What result would follow according to v. 8?
18. Read 2 Tim. 4:18. What kept Paul centered when he faced desertion and opposition here at the end of his life?
19. Read these verses, written earlier in Paul’s life. Write down what you learn about his attitude toward death.
20. Sharing question: As you look toward the end of you life, whether it comes tomorrow or fifty years from now, what one thing can you begin doing today to help guarantee that you will be able to say with Paul, “I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith!”?
21. Responding to God: Ask God to work in your life to give you the strength, the grace, and the endurance to finish well, as Paul did. Write your prayer below.
This week’s stories are at the end of Day Five, as usual. However, you may want to read them now since tomorrow we change focus to a review of all that God has done during this study rather than consider passing the baton.
It is our final day of study. I don’t know if you have felt that these ten weeks of study have gone quickly or at a snail’s pace! I do hope that you feel a sense of accomplishment to have made it to the end. If you have skipped any lessons, go back and work on them while you are not in a weekly study. Find a way to continue daily in God’s word so that you gain the strength and energy for your race.
22. Sharing question: Review the Table of Contents of this study. If you have time, you may want to skim through the entire study. What lesson was most meaningful to you? Why?
23. Sharing question: What have you learned from the life of Paul that was most personally meaningful to you? Why did it impact you?
24. Sharing question: What Bible verse was most significant to you? Why?
25. Sharing question: What has God done in your life through his word? What changes has he brought?
26. Sharing question: How has your group influenced and supported you?
Consider sharing one of these answers with the larger group at our Celebration time next week. Remember that it’s not about you but about God’s work in your life. It’s an opportunity to bring him praise and glory! Thank you for your commitment to make it through the entire study. I know that God will bless you richly as you continue to be faithful to him and to the race that he has given you to run!
Our final stories are from women who believe in the value of mentoring!
I had trusted Christ, but I really didn’t know what that all meant. My brother led me to the Lord and I began going to church and one gal, Gwen, really impressed me. She had just lost her pilot husband in a plane crash and she was sharing in our Sharing Service her struggles and pain as she grieved. At this point in my life I thought my husband dying in a plane crash would be answered prayer! But, as she shared she made me realize some of the things I would miss, too—like his putting out the garbage and his remembering when insurance was due and his locking the doors at night, and his income! I began to appreciate my husband in a new way; we got a lot of counseling and began to work out our differences.
Gwen was such a neat woman and I really liked her spirit, and she lived near me in town, not out in the suburbs where the church was located. We got to be friends, and she mentored me unknowingly. We went to lunch and Bible study together regularly. She was SO friendly – she always took an interest in the waitress and the valet and whoever seemed to be around. And I began to see how others were so attracted to her because she was so outgoing. I can remember thinking, “Why are you talking to the waitress – she’s just a waitress!” and then realizing how much it meant to the waitress and how appreciative she was to be noticed, AND what great service we got! Soon I found myself mimicking her in a lot of different ways – being kinder, more thoughtful and more loving. It’s still my goal in life to be Gwen and love the way she loves – because He first loved us and that’s our job now – to love others.
Early in my Christian life, Martha Binion, who had been instrumental in my salvation, encouraged me to read the Bible daily and to memorize scripture. She mentored many women individually and in small groups. She had a strong walk with the Lord which she developed through daily Bible reading, praying, and memorizing in an organized way. I could see that she was modeling what she was asking me to do, and I admired what I saw in her.
She introduced me to an organization called Bible Memory Association which sent me a little booklet of verses to memorize each week; there was also a plan for children which both of my girls took part in. We were required to say five verses each week to someone, and we chose a neighbor. We were given small rewards by the organization as an incentive, which was quite appealing to the children. This was an excellent way to get the Good News into the neighborhood.
Martha met with me and a friend weekly. We went through a series of small books about basic Christianity. Later she led a Bible study at my house which was attended by some of my neighbors. Some years later she asked me to lead a Bible study. She really took a risk trusting me to teach women who were older and much more spiritually mature than I was, but it proved to be an enormous time of growth for me.
I met a young woman named Cindy at a women's retreat who asked me to meet with her a few times but actually lasted for years. She was going through some difficult things which were way beyond my experience, but I basically just listened to her, prayed with her, and encouraged her to study the Bible with me. Meeting with Cindy was a first step in meeting with others. I really don't know how God has used me in their lives, but I do know that I have grown spiritually and gained friends that I never would have had otherwise. We have studied small structured Bible study books, books of the Bible, or sometimes we just talk about what's going on in our lives and what we see God doing. I have met at various times—before work, during lunch, and early on Saturday mornings. I never thought of myself as a mentor; I was just a person spending time with someone!
Moms have a unique opportunity to mentor their children. The imprint we make on our children is lasting. Our relationship with Christ must be authentic and growing in order to pass the baton of faith to the next generation.
As we think about developing faith in our children, we might have an image of taking our children to church and involving them in as many religious activities as possible. We might even do this believing that this will make up for our own lack of spirituality. Just as we might take a child to a gymnastics coach for training, we take them to church for spiritual training. While I think it is very important to be faithful in church attendance and I am grateful for the spiritual training that takes place in a vibrant church, the Bible places the responsibility for spiritual training on the parents. The church comes alongside the parents but does not replace them. We cannot outsource the responsibility that we have to mentor our children.
Action Step: Have you been relying on the church or a Christian school to do the primary spiritual training of your child? If so, ask the Lord to change your focus to accept that responsibility yourself. Write out one thing you can do to step up your training schedule at home.