“Now if Timotheus come, see that he may be with you without fear: for he worketh the work of the Lord, as I also do. Let no man therefore despise him: but conduct him forth in peace, that he may come unto me: for I look for him with the brethren.” (1 Corinthians 16:10–11, KJV)
I remember watching television as a young man. At that time, there were a lot of variety shows. There was a very popular stand-up comedian named Rodney Dangerfield. He had this great catchphrase, “I don’t get no respect!” One of the things in life that people seek and to which they respond in a positive way is respect. Respect has a positive influence in relationships, whether it be in marriages, families, friendships, or in employment. Conversely, disrespect is demoralizing and creates significant problems in these relationships. Common decency demands that we show some respect towards one another. When we do, things work better.
However, there is a problem with the way fallen humanity treats respect. The problem is that people have this idea that it must be earned. Moreover, if it is not earned, there will be disrespect and the negative consequences in our relationships as a result. When I went into the military as a brand new commissioned Second Lieutenant (2Lt), I observed some things. First, that the rank, itself, was to be respected. However, secondly, I learned that there was a difference between outward respect and inward respect. Yes, the enlisted personnel would salute me as an officer, but somehow, as a 2Lt, I did not have the inner respect. This was something that came over time. The problem was typical. It was one of youth, a lack of military experience in this case.
Paul began his mentoring relationship with Timothy when he met him in Lystra on his second missionary journey. He joined Paul’s team as one highly recommended by the churches of Lystra and Iconium (Acts 16:2). Thus, he must not have been a young boy, but one who had matured physically and in knowledge sufficiently to impress Paul as one having great potential for ministry. Thus, while we do not know Timothy’s exact age when he met Paul, we can conclude that he was old enough to become Paul’s protégé and join him in the gospel ministry. Yet, from Paul’s letter to Timothy, his perceived youthfulness was a concern. “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” (1 Timothy 4:12, KJV)
As Paul concluded this letter to the church at Corinth, he apparently had a concern that they might not receive Timothy properly. Most likely it was because of his apparent youthfulness. So, Paul first of all, tells the church to treat Timothy correctly, to treat him with respect. He tells them that Timothy was serving the Lord, just as he was. Then he commanded that they send Timothy to him in peace.
Every servant of the Lord is to be shown respect. Often in churches, the young ministers and servants, serving the Lord, are looked down upon by older people. While there may be an outward display of respect, there is an inward one of disrespect. Realize that this inward attitude cannot long be hidden. It is noticeable in body language and one’s actions. The big problem is that this attitude is detrimental to the development of the younger servant and detrimental to the mission of the church.
Every parishioner, especially those who have been around for a while, should examine the attitude of their hearts towards the younger servants. Repent from wrongful attitudes and then support and encourage the younger. Take them under your wing and make a difference for the future.