On Monday Nat Kealen reminded us that older people often possess wisdom that comes from having “been there, done that.” You might say that they bring a sense of perspective that is much needed in any organization, including the GARBC.

Yesterday Will Hatfield explained that older people can challenge us to watch our pace. By “pace,” Will referred to knowing the limits of our resources and energy and spending those resources wisely. He also mentioned the need to be careful to have realistic expectations and to be patient for change.

Hmm . . . first “perspective,” then “pace.” I’m tempted to build my post around another word that starts with the letter “p” (purpose? planning? priorities?), but my motto is “Always Avoid Alliteration.” So instead I’d like to talk about encouragement. Yes, another reason the GARBC needs older people is because many older people are great encouragers, and young people, especially young pastors, need encouragement.

We see this modeled by the apostle Paul in his letters to Timothy, a young pastor. Many times in 1 and 2 Timothy Paul exhorted and even commanded Timothy to do this or keep doing that. But we also see examples of Paul simply encouraging Timothy.

For example, throughout these letters Paul personally addressed Timothy in ways that I’m sure encouraged him. Paul called Timothy “my true child in the faith” (1 Tim. 1:2), “my child” (1 Tim. 1:18; 2 Tim. 2:1), and “my beloved child” (2 Tim. 1:2). He also called him a “man of God” (1 Tim. 6:11). I know I would be encouraged if the apostle Paul called me his beloved child in the faith and a man of God!

Another example of encouragement is found in 1 Timothy 5:23, where Paul exhorted Timothy to take care of his health. This shows Paul’s concern for Timothy as a person and not just for his pastoral ministry.

But Paul’s heart to encourage Timothy is most clearly seen in 2 Timothy 1:3-7, where Paul writes,

I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience, as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day. As I remember your tears, I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well. For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control (ESV).

What an encouragement these words must have been to Timothy as Paul told Timothy that he . . .

  • thanked God for him,
  • prayed for him regularly,
  • longed to see him,
  • believed Timothy possessed a “sincere faith,” and
  • believed Timothy possessed a “gift of God.”

Timothy’s resolve was surely strengthened as he read that Paul prayed for him, longed to see him, and believed that God would use him in ministry.

What older person has been an encouragement to you in your ministry?

Other articles in this series: