1 Cor. 4:14-17
I do not write these things to shame you, but as my beloved children I warn you. For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. Therefore, I urge you, imitate me. For this reason, I have sent Timothy to you, who is my beloved and faithful son in the Lord, who will remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach everywhere in every church.
The expectation was clear from the beginning. She was being groomed to take over the family business one day and fill the shoes her mom occupied. The work could be tiresome and all-consuming at times, but she loved it. She was learning not only the craft but the business behind the craft. Growing up in the bakery made it feel like home, but she always knew her place there. She was the student learning how to become the great baker and businesswoman her mother was. What she had not foreseen was that her mother’s success eventually would call her away from the bakery often, leaving her to fill those shoes sooner than expected. It was time for her to perform even in the midst of learning how exactly to do that.
We can think of discipleship as a very linear process which looks like the classic example of getting from point A to point B on a direct route. We might expect that the disciple will step up and be the leader only when that process is completed. Junior becomes the man of the house only once he has his own home. The student begins teaching only once she has finished learning. This approach, however, can be very far from how the process actually works. As disciples we must be prepared to put into practice that which we learn even while learning it. We must pay close attention to our teachers and be ready to emulate them and take their place whenever we are asked to do so. The best place to hone our new skills is right on the battlefield. Any other environment is a poor substitute.
Timothy was tasked with doing while he was learning. He was made to put into practice his ministry while that ministry was being developed. This is discipleship at work with the understanding that time is of the essence in this life. It also carries with it the understanding that God is in control of all this. Ultimately, it is He who prepares the student. The teacher is his tool, but God’s hand drives the work. If we know and believe in the power of God, then we trust that He will empower us to walk out what we learn as we learn it and take on the work of our shepherds whenever the need arises. Father, thank You for the grace and power to lead beyond our abilities when You have decided we are ready.