The Scriptorium

Learning from Timothy's Example

Timothy is an example for all the flock of God - including us. 1 Timothy 4.12-14

The Pastoral Epistles: 1 Timothy 4 (5)

Pray Psalm 12.6, 7.

The words of the LORD are pure words,
Like silver tried in a furnace of earth,
Purified seven times.
You shall keep them, O L
You shall preserve them from this generation forever.

Read and meditate on 1 Timothy 4.12-14.


1. What kind of example was Timothy supposed to set for the people in Ephesus?

2. What was Timothy not supposed to do? Does this apply to you as well? 

Pastors have essentially three tools which they must master for the work to which God has called them. They must be faithful and diligent in the Word of God and prayer (Acts 6.1-4). And they must set the people they serve an example of Christlikeness and love (cf. 1 Pet. 5.1-3).

Paul reinforced the importance of the Word and prayer in chapters 1 and 2. We can assume that the officers – elders and deacons – who were the shepherds of the churches in Ephesus were to be men skilled and consistent in each of these, as, indeed, Paul expected of Timothy.

Now Paul addresses the example Timothy is to set for the Lord’s flocks. He must be confident and mature in all his ways, despite his relative youth (v. 1). In his conversation, daily life, love for God and neighbors, spiritual growth, and Christlikeness, Timothy is to show the people he served what they, too, must strive to become. If he is faithful in reading the Scriptures, and in exhorting and teaching the people, he will be a faithful servant, and unashamed (2 Tim. 2.15). And he must continue to develop his gifts and improve in his calling to the work of ministry, which he received when he was ordained (v. 14).

That’s a tall order for any pastor, young or old. But let’s not lose the focus of these verses: Paul is calling Timothy to set an example for us. This means that whatever Paul required of Timothy, he expects of us. He expects us to grow and improve and become more consistent and effective in all these areas. Timothy’s example should have the impact on us of making us as diligent as Timothy and Paul at growing in the Lord and fulfilling our calling from him.

In the Christian life, in these last days of lies and apostasy, there’s no standing still. Either you’re growing and improving in your witness, or you’re losing ground. Take Paul’s words to Timothy to heart, and learn from his example what the Lord expects of you.

1. In which of the areas of Timothy’s example do you most need to improve?

2. What are you doing to improve your calling to serve the Lord in your Personal Mission Field?

3. How can believers encourage one another to greater faithfulness and consistency in following Timothy’s example?

So, then, the superior guide is to be mindful of the apostle’s precept, “Be an example to the faithful.” He should make his life a shining model for the observance of every commandment of the Lord, so that there may be no excuse for those under his guidance to think the Lord’s commands impossible or readily to be set aside. Basil the Great (330-379), The Long Rules, Q.43.R

Help me to grow in all these ways, Lord, and let me be an example of growth and ministry today as I…

Pray Psalm 12.5-8.

Let God’s Word reveal any lingering sin in your soul, and commit yourself to faithfully obeying whatever He calls you to this day.

Sing Psalm 12.5-8.
Psalm 12.5-8 (Hamburg: When I Survey the Wondrous Cross)
Rise up, O Lord, and rescue all
Your precious children sore distressed.
Save those who faithfully on You call.
Grant them deliv’rance, peace, and rest.

Your words are pure and proven true,
like silver seven times refined;
You will preserve Your Word ever new,
and keep the heart to You inclined.

Proudly the wicked strut and stand;
Your indignation builds on high;
Men may exalt their wicked plans,
but You will judge them by and by.

T. M. Moore

Whatever our calling in life, we are sent to bring the joy of Christ to the people around us. Our book, Joy to Your World!, can show you how to fill your Personal Mission Field with more of the Presence, promise, and power of Christ and His Kingdom. Order your copy, as a supplement to our study of 1 Timothy, by 
clicking here.

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All psalms for singing adapted from The Ailbe Psalter. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006).All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.