As a pastor for over 23 years, and having the privilege to serve in ministry for close to 30 years now, it seems as though time has escaped me. Yet, the Apostle Paul admonishes me in the book of Ephesians to make the most of my time. I must admit that I’ve probably not been the best steward of the many hours that were afforded to me. So, I pondered… Is there a way for me – for us all – to recapture time then move forward as eternal gatekeepers of it (time) into the future? I think, I’ve uncovered my time machine of sorts.
Imagine with me for a moment.
You see, God is not governed by time. He oversees and controls it. As a matter of fact, He can still make time stand still, if He chooses. Then we add into the equation the fact that God knows us as complete time wasters. Thus, it does not, nor will it ever surprise Him, when we squander our allotted time. So, He being Sovereign God provides us countless opportunities to escape, or in this case, make up for lost time. Better yet, He can maximize the time that remains and multiply it into the future. How can this be so?
One of the most profound questions I’ve ever heard is this: “How can a man live forever?” Now, we all clearly understand that we can have eternal life through the finished work of Jesus Christ. Therefore, this question is really asking: How can my ministry work, my legacy, the Gospel, the Great Commission of Christ, the integrity of Scripture and so on live beyond me? It’s simple – through the investment of others! In this, I’ve discovered, is my time machine – where my assigned time can be multiplied exponentially throughout generations. Here I find my opportunity to reboot, redo, and reach into the future by investing in the lives of our next generation.
This investment suggests that if I didn’t get it right, maybe I can help someone after me get it right. Most of all it says, I am willing to position the next generation to continue on or even improve upon the work I’ve begun.
In 1 Corinthians 4:14-17 the Apostle Paul writes: I do not write these things to shame you, but to admonish you as my beloved children. For if you were to have countless tutors in Christ, yet you would not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. Therefore I exhort you, be imitators of me. For this reason I have sent to you Timothy, who is my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, and he will remind you of my ways which are in Christ, just as I teach everywhere in every church.
Here are a few principles I’ve learned from this passage and have tried my best to apply over the years. I hope they encourage you as much as they still remind me to make the most of my time.
REMINDERS ARE GOOD: It was apparent that Paul knew this Church well. So, from whatever time he spent time with them last, he still had to remind them as his beloved children. The people he adored as father needed a simple reminder to grow up. Like the people of the Church then, we some times forget to do the basics of discipleship and need an occasional reminder to stop acting like children and start intentionally multiplying ourselves.
I do not write these things to shame you, but to admonish you as my beloved children. (v 14)
REMEMBER MULTIPLICATION IS BETTER: Thank God for tutors, but fathers – those who intentionally multiply themselves – is a better option. It is evident from Paul’s tone that there is something distinctively different about tutors and fathers – multipliers. Here’s a few: Tutors instruct but fathers invest. Tutors teach but fathers help transform. Tutors are temporary but fathers are eternal. We must always pursue fatherhood – multiplication – because as Paul stated in the text, fathers are through the gospel. Fathering others ensures the Gospel remains timeless and that it endures throughout all generations. If we don’t continuously give birth and father, multiplying other children, we somehow remain in or even revert back to a childlike state of heart.
For if you were to have countless tutors in Christ, yet you would not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. (v 15)
REMEMBER TO REPLICATE YOURSELF: What better person is there to help continue the kingdom work than someone who has your fingerprint upon their lives. Not a clone but a replication. This is a person you’ve spent hours pouring into with transparency. This is someone you confidently know that they would say what you would say, do what you would do, and stand for what you would stand for in their own unique way. A Holy Spirit led way.
Therefore I exhort you, be imitators of me. (v 16)
REMEMBER TO RELEASE: The most challenging responsibility of stewarding time through replication is releasing the next generation. For control freaks, like most of us, it’s especially difficult. Releasing a replication of Christ in us, guarantees they will do it differently. It means a different pathway, but the same destination. It even opens the possibility that they will do it better. Not matter how it looks and feels when we release the next generation, if Christ is preached and He’s the One we’re being transformed into, we all must learn to rejoice.
For this reason I have sent to you Timothy, who is my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, and he will remind you of my ways which are in Christ, just as I teach everywhere in every church. (v 17)
We all have a specific amount of time given and assigned to us by the Great Time Keeper, God. We steward this time through the vehicles of discipleship and His church. Thus, embracing the essence of discipleship beginning at new birth should inspire an urgency within us to share the Good News of Jesus Christ to all people, at all times. We must always be planting, watering and waiting expectantly for the increase – to come through us.
This is an increase of sons and daughters being added to the Church daily. Through me. Through you.
We, having the privilege of witnessing the next generation being multiplied through us, keep the transformational work of the gospel going and going. Then we can all say as John proclaimed in 3 John 1:4: I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth. May we all make the most of our time to give birth to spiritual children and invest in them so that we too may hear of them walking in the truth!