by Mark Huffman, COO
I was late. I hate being late. Thankfully, the conference hadn’t started yet and one open chair remained in the room. I sat down next to a stranger, a young man who introduced himself to me as Timothy (not his real name). He was a seminary student, hoping to be a pastor and a church planter. I was a pastor and a church planter. He immediately started asking me about pastoring and church planting, but our conversation was cut short when the conference started. Timothy was FAT.
I don’t remember why, but I had to leave the conference early. I said goodbye to Timothy and snuck out of the room. To my surprise, as I left the building, Timothy caught up to me and we continued our discussion about ministry. Timothy was FAT.
He followed me to the bus stop and we continued to talk. The bus was late. We talked more. I invited Timothy to come to our home the next weekend for supper. It had been a while since he’d had a home-cooked meal. Even though his seminary was on the other side of the city, which could mean a 2-hour bus ride, he immediately said yes. Timothy was FAT.
Timothy came to our home for that home-cooked meal. It was the second time we’d ever met. Our meetings became an almost weekly event for the next five or so years.
Timothy was not fat. He was maybe 5’10” and 150 pounds. Timothy was FAT—faithful, available and teachable.
Faithful. Timothy was disciplined, dedicated, studying and working hard to be a godly man and committed to becoming a good church leader. He was looking for help in that process.
Available. Timothy was willing to make the time to travel across the city to meet regularly.
Teachable. Timothy was hungry, working hard in seminary class and still full of questions about how to apply scripture to life, church life and ministry in the real world. Timothy was FAT—faithful, available and teachable. These are the key characteristics potential mentors need to look for in their potential disciples or mentees.
God used this relationship to sharpen and mature me, and Timothy became an integral part of my life and ministry. A few years later, after we had planted a church together and served side-by-side, after I introduced him to his future wife, Timothy moved with his family to Asia to train more church leaders. God is using Timothy to have a great impact on his own city and now on a country starving for the gospel. What an honor it has been to mentor someone who is FAT!
Timothy’s story is ideal. That is why I chose to tell it. Over the last 20 years, I have attempted to start relationships with probably 20 other men who appeared to be FAT. Few turned out like Timothy. If you have a 10-20% “success” rate, you will have done well. Jesus, after all, had Judas.
Trust God for the results, and be a faithful, available and teachable steward of the opportunities.
This article first appeared in the Spring 2018 Engage.