By Dave Earley
What could happen if we took every ridiculously radical, fully devoted, biblically sound, spiritually hot, missional pastor in America and cloned them thirty times? It would not only wonderfully change America, it would change the world.
Paul had been a rabbinic disciple of Gamaliel, one of the most prominent rabbis of his day (Acts 22:3). As a rabbi-in-training he was to have memorized most, if not all, of the Old Testament. He also learned the interpretations of the great rabbis, as well as those of his teacher Gamaliel. So as a young man, Paul had become a leading young Jewish rabbi (Acts 7:58; 8:1–3).
After his conversion, Paul made disciples. When he needed to escape persecution in Damascus, it was “his disciples” who lowered him over the city wall in a basket (Acts 9:25).
The Scriptures mention more than thirty men and women by name as Paul’s fellow laborers. Numerous ones are described as having lived and travelled with Paul during his thirty years of ministry. During this time he would have imparted his extensive knowledge of the Old Testament and the personal revelations he had received from the Lord. They would have also worked alongside Paul as he did pioneer evangelism and church planting.
These thirty or more people became the leaders of the many churches Paul started. Some of them no doubt also went out and started churches.
So even as Paul was busy fulfilling his calling as an apostle to the Gentiles, he also fulfilled the Great Commission by making disciples. He took what the Lord had deposited into him and committed it to faithful men who in turn taught others also. There may have been as many as thirty little “Pauls” doing ministry even after he was imprisoned in Rome.
One of Paul’s favorite disciples was a young man named Timothy. Paul later trusted Timothy enough to entrust him to lead the strategic church of Ephesus. It was to the young pastor Timothy that Paul wrote his important letters we now have in our Bibles called 1 Timothy and 2 Timothy.
In 2 Timothy 2, Paul reminded Timothy of the necessity of mentoring multipliers. Read 2 Tim 2:2 carefully. See if you can observe the four generations of spiritual multiplication going in this passage. Because I am nice, I will even get you started by telling you the first generation. Paul wrote this letter, so the first generation is “me”—speaking of Paul.
And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, commit to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. (2 Tim 2:2, italics added)
The first generation is Paul (“me”). He mentored the young man he wrote this letter to—Timothy (“you”). Timothy was to pass it on to a third generation (“faithful men”). They were to pass it on to a fourth generation (“others”). Paul reminded Timothy that in the midst of all of his many responsibilities as the lead pastor of a significant church, not to forget the main thing—invest in making disciples and mentoring multipliers.
Pastoral leadership is investing in faithful men. God’s plan for your life may not be to pastor a megachurch. It may not be for you to become a bestselling author. Maybe nobody but your mom will listen to your podcasts.
But without a shadow of a doubt, God’s plan is for you to invest everything He has given you into a few faithful men with the purpose being that they would invest it into others.