Passing the baton to men who will follow Jesus

Wouldn’t it be great to leave a legacy of future generations following the footsteps of Jesus?  What’s the best way to begin?  How about using a Wallet Card? (click to download)

Before I explain how this works, let’s look at Scripture for some clues.  In his final written correspondence before execution at Nero’s hands, the apostle Paul charged his young protégé Timothy to pass along the baton of disciple–building.

  • “You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” (2 Timothy 2:1–2)

This was not a new concept for Timothy, since Paul had already reminded him in a previous letter how he had benefited from next–generation disciple–building.

  • “For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well.” (2 Timothy 1:5)

In Paul’s charge to Timothy, he uses six words or phrases that reveal the mechanics of spiritual “baton–passing”

1. “be strong” [ἐνδυναμόω] … This term means “to increase in strength.”  Because Paul wrote this as a present, passive, imperative (tense, voice & mood), it literally meant “commanded to continuously being strengthened.”  It’s a command to be transformed by someone else, namely the Holy Spirit.  In other words, God commands, then equips, and causes the action to happen continuously.

2. “grace” … God’s unmerited favor secures our salvation for eternity, but it also fuels our everyday living as we follow Jesus.  Dallas Willard wrote about this in The Great Omission …

  • “The true saint burns grace like a 747 jet burns fuel on takeoff.  Become the kind of person who routinely does what Jesus did and said.  You will consume much more grace by leading a holy life than you will by sinning, because every holy act you do will have to be upheld by the grace of God.” (p. 62)

While writing about Jesus’ resurrection, Paul adds his view on grace …

  • “But by the grace of God, I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me.” (1 Corinthians 15:10)

3. “heard in the presence of many witnesses” … Paul met Timothy near the beginning of his second missionary journey (Acts 16:1), so Timothy received ample opportunities to hear Paul’s message of God’s grace.  These were not secret truths shared in a vacuum, but public testimonies delivered repeatedly in major cities throughout the Roman Empire.  Timothy was probably also present in Rome during the two years that Paul was there under house arrest.  What he witnessed is what I call “whole–Bible disciple–building.”

  • “When they had set a day for Paul, they came to him at his lodging in large numbers; and he was explaining to them by solemnly testifying about the kingdom of God and trying to persuade them concerning Jesus, from both the Law of Moses and from the Prophets, from morning until evening.” (Acts 28:23)

4. “entrust” [παρατίθημι] is the pivotal word in Paul’s charge to Timothy.  It literally meant “to set before,” as in setting food on a table before a guest.  Within certain contexts it came to mean “to deposit,” as would be done in a trust for protection.  In other contexts it was translated “to commit to one’s charge.”

The term is used twice in Mark 6:38 & 41, to describe the feeding of 5000 men, plus women and children.  Mark then repeats the term in 8:6 while describing a second miraculous feeding where it is translated “to serve to them.”

Jesus speaks this term from the Cross … “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.” (Luke 23:46).  These cross–references provide wonderful clues about what Paul expected Timothy to do with the message of God’s grace that he had heard.

5. “faithful” [πιστός] is the adjective Paul uses to describe the type of people that Timothy should seek.  It means “trusty, believing, reliable.”

6. “able to teach others” [ἱκανός] is another qualifying characteristic of those to whom Timothy would pass the baton of disciple–building.  It meant “sufficient in ability” or “fit for a task at hand.”  The root word meant “to have come” or “to have arrived,” and it suggests “seeking intimacy with another.”  It can be translated “to become a fit follower.”

Now notice the results of this deliberate, intentional approach … Four–generation disciple–building! … Paul to Timothy to faithful men to others.

Against this spiritual backdrop, here’s how a Wallet Card works …

  • Click the link to download the handout, then print and cut into six cards.
  • Carry one in your wallet, another in your vehicle, another in your gym bag.
  • Tape one to your bathroom mirror, maybe another atop your computer at work.
  • Then pray that the Holy Spirit will impress on your mind the names of “men who will follow Jesus.”
  • As names come to mind, write them on the card.  Some may already be following Jesus.  Others may still be in search–mode.  Still others may have no clue of their need for a Savior.
  • One of the names may be a family member (son, brother, etc.).  Another name may be a neighbor or co–worker.  You may not have yet met still other names that will be added.
  • As you add names to your list, continue to pray … that the Holy Spirit would strengthen you, plus open a door of opportunity to naturally share your faith–story with these men.

If you’re tech–savvy, use Evernote (or similar app) to create a digital “Wallet Card.”  If you do, let me know so I can share how you did that in a future blog post!

Add the “Wallet Card” to your disciple–building tool–kit, and pray for effective results similar to what Paul wrote about at the end of his life on earth.

  • “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, Who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.” (Titus 2:11–14)

As the Holy Spirit continuously strengthens and equips you for this strategic task, please leave a comment here on the blog, describing encounters or conversations with “men who will follow Jesus”!

Peace & Joy!

~ tr







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