Titus Connection August 2021

Volume 15, Number  8– August, 2021

Greetings.  We continue with the Shepherd’s Way series.  May it be an encouragement to you.  Also in the Youth Ministry section, perhaps what is shared about Timothy, you have not spent much time thinking about.  Enjoy both articles.  Mike


Make Where You Are
Ministering a Safe Place

          We learn from John 10, that the Good Shepherd that He is the gate for His sheep and protecting them (vs 7).  That means the fence protecting the sheep is good and if a thief and robber attempt to climb the fence to do their evil deeds, it will not be easy.  What does this mean for us in today’s world as we work and minister among the people God has given to us to be responsible for?
          Basically, make where you minister, the environment, a safe place.  A quick emphasis needs to be mentioned here, that you do not need to be a pastor or paid ministry worker to be ministering to people.  Wherever you live and work or go to school is your ministry environment.  As believers in Jesus, we all are ambassadors and represent Him, wherever and whatever.  So this is applicable to all of us.
          Additionally, we are not talking about buildings though if you are in charge of a facility, you do not want the building to fall down on people.  Here are situations where there are safety issues for people.  When your people are suffering from exhaustion, they will not perform well or not at all.  We read in Hebrews 12:1-2, to run with perseverance the race (our spiritual journey) that God has creatively placed in our lives to run.  Running a race, one issue you face is exhaustion.
          Exhaustion develops when we are dealing with fear; fear of being harmed physically, emotionally, relationally and spiritually.  We want to physically protect our people (as John 10 talks about) from thieves and robbers as much as possible.  People know when they are feeling vulnerable, that something could happen to them.  People need to know they are secure, that they will be treated with respect and dignity. 
            This is accomplished by keeping your word, being a person of integrity, keeping confidences, communicating honestly, be known for building people up not tearing them down behind their backs (Ephesians 4:29-32).  Communicate with people how they are doing even if they are volunteering, or you are teaching them.  Be straight forward.  Eliminating uncertainties of how you are treating a person especially when they are not right in front of you, breeds a healthy environment.
          Another way to eliminate exhaustion and continued fear is to pursue unity.  Let everyone honestly know their value and significance, that they each have a role to play.  Get personal as much as possible.  Involve people in different ways, letting people attempt jobs or activities that you hope develops them personally and as a team member.  Do not do everything by yourself; involve others and not just your favorites! As leaders, one of our top goals is to equip and empower others to be used for God’s glory.  One way you do that is by not doing everything yourself.
          We all want good attitudes in our work, ministry and home environments. Personally work at it (I have to as a good attitude does not come naturally) and then be willing to weed out those who refuse to have good attitudes.  The environment or culture you develop in your home, work, church or classroom, goes a long way to influence others.  If you have a culture of developing a good attitude and people refuse to pursue good attitudes, then you may very well have to encourage them to move on (unless they are family and that brings on a whole new set of issues).
             Small disturbances that keep your people from doing quality work at what they are to be doing is a pain.  Annoyances are telling people they are never doing a good job, that if you do not do things right, you are in trouble.  Other annoyances are people who constantly get mad at everything and everyone, or coworkers/team members who by talking too much, keep people distracted enough from doing their work. 
              To help develop your environments to be safe and productive, uplifting and encouraging, be around and involved with your people.  Matthew 9:35-38 revealed Jesus out among the people He was ministering to and yet, it was not until He saw (His eyes were opened by God) the people’s needs and what was truly going on inside of them, was His heart moved with compassion.  Get real with the people you have responsibility to.  Ask God to give you eyes (your heart) to see what He sees and then be willing to minister however needed.  Develop relationships by serving people and then they will begin to trust you.  That will breed a healthy environment.
         When issues and problems arise, do not wait to deal with them.  Do not let problems fester.  Deal with issues quickly.  For those of us who do not desire or want to deal with conflict (like me), we need to seek courage from the Lord and do the right things by dealing with conflict.  Have that hard conversation.  Make the difficult decision that will not necessarily be positive. 
        People will respect you even if they do not agree with you.  Provide an environment at home, work, school, church or wherever that will encourage people to want to be there and be a part of what you are doing. 


            Have you ever had the chance to connect with people who could help you with something or a unique situation that rarely happens and you did not take advantage of that golden opportunity right in front of you?  You let it “slip right through your fingers”.  You hang your head and ask yourself why you didn’t go with the opportunity.
           Sometimes we can read passages of scripture and miss key points.  Such a passage could be Acts 16:1-5.  Paul traveled to new areas including Lystra, where he met up with Timothy for the first time. Timothy was a young person (as we learn in the book of 1 Timothy (4:12-14) who had an interesting background.  His mom was Jewish and a believer in Jesus while his father was Greek, meaning a Gentile. 
         His parents’ marriage could have been like being associated as Samaritans.  Samaritans were not respected by Jews because Jewish Samaritans had married non-Jews (Gentiles) and according to Jews, these people were the lowest form of life on earth.  Perhaps you can relate to not being from the “right” side of town, or from a group, whether by heritage, religious denomination, color of skin, what your parent does, or you are simply bullied.
         But there was something special about Timothy where leaders in the Lystra Church spoke highly of Timothy.  Paul took notice of Timothy and saw some great potential in him, offering to take Timothy along with the group, which would let Paul mentor Timothy.  Despite having some potential stereotype labels place on him, Timothy chose to go along. 
        A golden opportunity was not missed by Timothy.  It could have been easy for Timothy to justify that he was young, had a mix of Jewish and Greek blood which was a sigma and even though his mom was Jewish, he had not been circumcised, which was significantly looked down upon by the Jewish community.  That community included Jews who had become believers and followers of Jesus but still due to tradition, felt it was extremely important to be circumcised to be a “real” Christian.
           Paul saw that Timothy not being circumcised could become detrimental for Timothy to be able to do ministry work among Jews.  He suggested to Timothy to be circumcised, not for salvation reasons but rather to be able to do work among the Jewish communities and not have a tradition keep him from doing what Timothy potentially could do. It would physically hurt for a while, but was it worth it for Timothy to follow through on?
        As a young person, it is easy to blow off or think to yourself, that some older guy or group do not know what they are talking about and reject the idea being presented.  Here is where having a teachable attitude can either open doors for you or keep you from really becoming what God is offering you to become. 
       Personally I have seen young people whether dealing with a sport or wrestling over a truth from the Bible, have the attitude no one can tell them what to do and “I am my own person”, thus thrusting aside something that will help them develop.  Young people (and older ones to include grey haired too! ) have ended up not becoming what they could be and missed out on a tremendous amount of blessings – all because of not being teachable.
      Timothy did not throw away this opportunity and became a vital team player in the early Church.  Is your heart soft toward the guidance of the Holy Spirit as the Word of God or a mature Christian, challenges some area of your life to develop?  Timothy could have thrust aside Paul’s circumcision ideas but was teachable and tender enough to wise counsel to do the right thing. 
        We have choices quite often that shows our level of teachability and sensitivity to the Holy Spirit’s leading in our lives.  Hopefully and prayerfully, we do not have to hang our heads after letting a great opportunity slip through our fingers.