Timothy faced his demons like you and I must face ours. Timothy was the Apostle Paul’s protégé. He was a very young man and Paul took time to strengthen this timid fledgling of a pastor. It’s not hard to figure out that the older folks in Tim’s church was what made the preacher a little nervous. Paul told him not to let that get in the way of being a good example to the flock (1 Timothy 4:12).
Everyone needs a Paul! I had Pat. Pat Giffin was a mentor to me when I was a new pastor. Pat was blessed with the kind of wisdom and pastoral gifts you cannot learn in seminary. I knew Pat for only the last four years of his life. He was operating on less than half of his heart’s abilities. Yet, with death’s shadow dogging him, Pat was a man full of life and joy. Our Monday conversations were laced with his laughter and corny jokes.
Pat never told me I needed a sense of humor to be a pastor. (Although he did tell me Mondays would always require learning a new joke – I guess that would be to counter the effects of spiritual attack most pastors encounter after preaching). Pat offered little unasked-for advice, but was ready to help you find your fears and face them. In the end he did that for me when he left instructions with his bride, Martha, that I preach his funeral service.
The little church was packed; there were as many standing outside as seated and standing inside. At the end of the service I led the procession around the small pond next to the church, as we carried Pat to the cemetery. When everyone was in place I was going to begin reading Scripture…and that’s when it happened. The lightning flashed, thunder crashed and a torrential Florida afternoon “frog-strangling” rain shortened the graveside to thirty seconds. As everyone scurried to the fellowship hall, I could have sworn on ten Bibles I heard Pat’s Monday afternoon laughter in that thunder.
I truly laughed out loud as I ran for shelter. And in that moment I knew Pat had made his point – if God hasn’t given us a spirit of fear, there’s really only one other choice!