Let’s say you’re a patient about to undergo major surgery. Just before they wheel you in, the doctor blurts, “You know, I’ve never actually done surgery before…but hey, we’ll give it the ol’ college try.”
Growing older is a fact we all must face. Now…you’re not going to get me to declare when growing up stops and growing old starts—not on your life! But there are some signs we can read along life’s journey that suggest we are entering the transition. (How’s that for diplomacy?)
You may not have thought about it before, but Christians have a lot more in common with soldiers than we might think. In what way? For starters, soldiers don’t serve to protect themselves but to guard the interests of their homeland. There is simply no room for ego or grandstanding among soldiers during the heat of battle. What matters is obeying the leader’s commands. I can’t help but think of Paul’s words to his young protege, Timothy: “Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.
I’ve discovered that when individuals are young and gifted, the most common tendency is for them to drift toward arrogance and, sometimes, raw conceit. Almost without exception, when I detect conceit in individuals, I think to myself, They haven’t been mentored.
When Paul laid out a path of suffering for his protégé, Timothy, the young pastor may have grimaced. But Paul promised more than pain. The path, should Timothy choose it, would take him to heights unknown—to glory after death and to greater maturity in life. The same awaits us, if we choose the rough and rugged road of Christ.
Words are powerful things. With them, we can lead people to life-freeing truth or life-imprisoning falsehood. That’s why Paul was concerned about certain men in the church who had “gone astray from the truth” (2 Timothy 2:18).
Character is no longer king; our culture champions competency. Scripture, however, champions character. So, for those of us who wish to lead in a Christian manner, character must always trump competency. That’s the message of the last seven verses 2 Timothy 2.
What’s your definition of truth? Is truth debatable or is it absolute? If you’re struggling with knowing what’s true, you’re not alone.
I grew up enjoying the childhood activity of follow-the-leader. Back in the Prairies, it was especially fun to play after a fresh snowfall on our way to and from school (a four-block walk). With hockey stick in hand, we’d take turns being the leader. We’d take big steps, hopping steps, sliding steps, climb snowbanks and jump down making tracks as we went. We would expect the others to do exactly what we did with both our steps and our stick (acting like a cane, a pole vault, or a sword). You could tell how well your friends were following by their boot prints in the snow.