Optional Lectio Divina Prayer
- Read 2 Timothy 2:1–5.
- Meditate on the words.
- Speak to Christ about this passage.
- Rest and listen in God’s presence.
- Discuss together.
What do you think of when you picture St. Paul?
But Scripture shows us another side of Paul, a side not as well-known but just as influential for the Church and the world: his intentional discipleship with those he was forming in the Faith.
Paul’s traveling companion for much of his missionary journey was a young Christian named Timothy. Upon arriving in Lystra on his second missionary journey, Paul learned of the sound reputation of this faithful young Christian. By the end of Paul’s visit there, Timothy was inspired to leave everything behind and to join the great Apostle on mission. (1)
As Paul and Timothy journeyed together, Paul intentionally trained Timothy to lead. Paul sent Timothy first to Thessalonica and later to Macedonia to encourage the Christians there, exhorting him to “[l]et no one despise your youth, but set the believers an example in speech and conduct, in love, in faith, in purity” (1 Tim 4:12). After each assignment, Timothy returned to his mentor for even more training in mission.
After fifteen years of laboring together, Paul trusted that he had formed Timothy well enough to let him lead on his own — so he sent Timothy on an extended mission to a troubled community in Ephesus. As Timothy fought to address false teachings there, Paul encouraged him: “I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these instructions to you so that, if I am delayed, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God” (1 Tim 3:14).
Discuss: What do you find most inspiring or surprising about this story of the early Church? What strikes you about Paul’s investment in Timothy? What does it reveal to you about discipleship that Paul and Timothy were on mission for more than 15 years together, even when their lives took them apart from one another?
THE IMPORTANCE OF DISCIPLESHIP
The goal of every missionary disciple is to help form other missionary disciples who will live out the Little Way of Evangelization wherever the Lord calls them. It is inviting them to a journey of imitation, an invitation to “be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (1 Cor 11:1), as Paul himself invited the early Christians to do.
“Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.”
Discuss: How has someone led you like Paul did for Timothy? When considering what they did, what was most transformative for your own understanding of mission?
LEADING LIKE ST. PAUL
- Paul shared life with the people he served.
- Paul gave Timothy intentional training for ministry.
- Paul invited Timothy to go out on mission together with him.
- Paul sent Timothy to entrust the mission to others.
Let’s look more closely at each of these elements of walking with another in discipleship.
You are called to do the same as you walk with those in your life. You have probably been doing this already; continue to share life with the people you are leading by cooking meals together, visiting the Blessed Sacrament together and pursuing other ways to share life together.
Intentional Training for Mission
Once someone in your life has made a commitment to Christ and desires to grow in their faith, they are ready to be intentionally formed. This intentional formation looks different depending on where the person in whom you are investing is in their journey.
- When the person you are investing in is in the “Build” phase, you will likely want to meet occasionally to talk about their walk with Christ, particularly in the basic Christian practices of Acts 2:42: prayer, fellowship, the sacraments and the teaching of the Apostles (see articles 3.0 – 3.5). But we don’t just want to talk about these ideas. We also want to create opportunities for the person to have experiences together in prayer, sacraments, Christian fellowship and faith formation.
- Once someone has accepted the High Call to Mission, it is best to meet regularly (with a group of other missionary disciples, if possible) for intentional formation and training for mission. This is where you will discuss the “Send” articles (see articles 5.0 – 6.4), practice your mission skills and spend intentional time going on mission together.
Going on Mission Together
Seeing Beyond Timothy
Discuss: What are some practical ways you can share life with the people in whom you are investing? What intentional formation do you think Jesus wants them to receive next? What could you learn by going out on mission with someone else alongside you? How will you ensure that your discipleship relationship is not just focused inward on the two of you but remains looking outward at those in whom you are investing?
PITFALLS TO INTENTIONAL DISCIPLESHIP
- Buddy: Be careful not to let your time together slip into just being “buddies” while letting intentional formation fall to the wayside. Your conversations might begin with what’s going on in your lives, but your conversations should center around mission and your next steps in evangelization.
- Counselor: Your role for those you are accompanying is not to be a counselor or a spiritual director. If the person you are walking with does need more substantial spiritual, mental or emotional guidance, help them seek out a priest, a good counselor, a spiritual director or other helpful resources!
- Boss: Be aware not to let your discipleship relationship be reduced to nothing more than a weekly meeting or discussions solely about goals, progress and accountability. Falling into the “boss” mentality leaves out the one who’s really in charge of mission: Jesus himself! Your role is more like a mentor, one who encourages, listens, guides, coaches and helps someone else progress in their mission and toward heaven.
Discuss: Which of these three pitfalls do you imagine yourself falling into more easily? What kind of accountability will you need to keep your discipleship intentional and authentic?
- Pray: Take time each week to pray for the people in whom you are investing. Let Jesus guide you to the next conversation you need to have or the next skill the person in whom you are investing is ready to learn and practice.
- Prepare: Based on your prayer, decide what you would like to teach, discuss or do in your next intentional meeting time. If you decide to discuss a Discipleship Article, take time to read and prepare the article (see Introduction article). If you are practicing some mission skill, take time to think through how you will coach the person or group(s) you’re leading and offer feedback.
- Teach and Learn: During your meeting, use what you prepared to create an authentic conversation and mission experience. Ask good questions and feel free to depart from what you had planned, if the Holy Spirit leads. One way to structure your time together looks like this:
- 5 – 10 mins: Open in prayer (Lectio Divina, intercessory prayer, spontaneous prayer, etc.)
- 30 – 40 mins: Intentional formation or mission practice (discussing a Discipleship Article, reading or listening to a supplemental resource from an article, going out and practicing a mission skill, problem-solving to overcome an obstacle in mission, etc.)
- 10 – 15 mins: Debrief and discuss next steps
- Please note: This is not a required structure, but rather a guide to help you ensure that you are incorporating the various pieces of discipleship in your time together. Feel free to adapt this as necessary.
- Next Steps: At the end of your meeting, discuss any takeaways and decide what next steps you both need to take to practice and grow in mission. This is where the vision and the ideas from your conversation become a lived habit that can transform your life.
(1) Scott Hahn, “Timothy,” Catholic Bible Dictionary (New York: Doubleday, 2009), 914.
(2) Ignatius Catholic Study Bible: New Testament, Revised Standard Version (2nd ed.), comp. Curtis Mitch, ed. Scott Hahn (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2001), 395.