“Wait, what time on Friday morning?” I asked my youth pastor. “6:00 am,” he replied. So, I had heard him correctly. I was hoping I was mistaken.
He was talking to my friends and me after church one day. He wanted to do an in-depth Bible study with us on Friday morning at our local Mexican restaurant. It would start at 6:00 am and end at 7:20 am, so we could all drive to school and be there before 8 o’clock.
I still had a hard time processing his request. It meant I would have to wake up at 5:20 am to get ready for school and drive to the restaurant before 6 am. That’s really early for a 17-year-old boy who stays up too late, not doing homework and playing video games.
But the restaurant’s breakfast tacos were amazing and came with a free coffee. And something inside of me (I know now it was the Holy Spirit) reassured me that it would be ok. I would lose sleep, true, but I’d also gain something far more valuable—spiritual growth.
I nodded, told my pastor I would be there, and looked forward to it. My other friends chimed in while my pastor said, “Great. See you bright and early.”
Little did I know how much those early morning breakfasts would impact me.
As we poured over Scripture, it was one of the first times I was challenged to truly live out my faith. Over tasty lime-ranch salsa and egg, bacon, and bean tacos, I was shaped by the Word of God and a man who wanted me to grow up.
One morning, in particular, stands out. I remember my pastor telling us about his raise and asking how he should spend it. We all agreed that his TV was pretty old, and his family deserved a flatscreen. He listened to us and asked us why. We all looked at each other, “…because you deserve it?” He spent the next five minutes talking about our responsibility to care for the poor – to use what God has given us to love and bless others. We were all quiet. Someone cracked a joke to break the awkwardness. But the damage to our surface-level Christianity was already done.
Truths and doctrines are essential, but Christianity is also a verb.
I still meditate on this truth – and pray to be Christ in everything I do.
I think back to that time and still thank God. I don’t mean that as an expression. I literally thank God for my youth pastor. I thank God for loving me enough not to let me stay stagnant. For sending me someone to build me up. Someone to challenge me — to not let me settle. Someone who loved Jesus so much that he wanted to wake up at 5:00 am to help others love him, too.
We see this mentoring relationship between Paul and Timothy. Paul calls Timothy his “true son in the faith” (1 Timothy 1:2). Paul wasn’t married and so didn’t have physical children, but that doesn’t stop him from ‘adopting’ a younger believer and raising him like his son. Paul pours into Timothy all that he has. He instructs, encourages, rebukes, and loves–just like any good father does–just like our good Father does.
In Paul and Timothy, we see a beautiful reminder that we need each other. We need mentors in our lives to help shape us. Our faith needs others to grow it. And when we are grown up, we need to find someone else to pass the faith down to. We must encourage, correct, and love younger brothers and sisters too. Everyone needs a Paul and a Timothy in their life. You need someone pouring into you so you can pour out into someone else.
God loves you and wants your faith to grow. If you desire a Paul in your life, ask the Lord, who gives generously to all who believe. If you have been mentored, thank God. Right now. For that person. And pray for a Timothy—someone you can be used to shape. We are one body, one Church. God made us for Him and each other.
We need each other— and delicious breakfast tacos as well.
Jacob is a committed husband, father, and teacher. He has taught social studies for over a decade in the US and internationally. He has written Right Before the Bell: A Teacher’s Weekly Devotional to help teachers use God’s Word to shape their classrooms. He loves reading, watching movies, hiking, and eating great food. Jacob also has the privilege of serving as an elder in his local church, and one of his greatest desires is to see people become all that God made them to be. He lives and teaches overseas with his wife and two children.