The highest accolade

“I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you…. For I have no one else of kindred spirit who will genuinely be concerned for your welfare. For they all seek after their own interests, not those of Christ Jesus…..” (Philippians 2:19ff)

As I write this, I have just come from the office of my E-N-T doctor.  For two decades this good man has looked after our family and has done life-saving surgery on me twice.  I find myself thinking that as I age, he too will make that decision which I made five years ago, and retire.  Anyone else can retire and we’re fine by that. But not our doctor.

He reaches age 65 next month. So I asked the big question.

“I’m not even remotely thinking of retiring,” he said. “I love my work too much for that.”

I’ll tell you how much he loves his work.

Every morning of his life he attends 6:30 am mass to pray for his patients.

Ten years ago, before performing cancer surgery on me, he gathered his team around and said, “Reverend, would it be all right with you if I prayed?” Are you kidding?  That is just about the finest gift anyone has ever given me.  (I reminded him today I am ten years cancer-free.)

You do not need me to tell you–but I will anyway–that his staff and colleagues adore him. When he had stepped away, one of the OR nurses whispered, “He’s my doctor, too.”

Later, after leaving his office, I thought of Paul’s words about young Pastor Timothy: “I have no one else of kindred spirit who will genuinely be concerned for your welfare.”

All the others, Paul said, are looking out for number one.

Even Christians fall into this trap of self-centeredness.

We have three observations….

If someone in your life has a calling from Heaven to “be concerned for your welfare,” you are blessed indeed.

Usually this is a husband or wife. It can be an assistant to you, a secretary, or your mother.  It drives them to pray for you and go the second (and third and fourth) mile on your behalf.

The team of Billy Graham used to say their job was to take off his shoulders secondary things so he could focus on the calling God had given him.

If someone believes in you to that extent, recognize it as rare indeed and a precious gift from God.

Perhaps you are the one called to be the supporter, the encourager, the helper to someone who is doing a great work.  You must labor not to be intrusive, not to want to manage their lives, and not to want to be Colonel Parker to their Elvis.

Those who care more for others than for themselves are rare and wonderful; cherish them.

Paul said to the Philippians, “With humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself” (Phil. 2:3).  He added, “Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others” (2:4).

Has anyone ever calculated how rare this kind of love is?

The typical person–even in the ministry it grieves me to say–will look at a proposed action and ask questions like “Will this advance my career?  How will it make me look? Will anyone notice if I do this–or if I don’t? What’s this going to cost me?  What’s it going to pay?” and such foolishness.

Then, once in a while, a Timothy enters the room (or joins your church staff).  He gives no thought to his career or his resume’ or his vocational path.  He has come to serve and to bless.  He has arrived as a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ.

I have had a Timothy or two on my church staff through the years.  Two things stand out in my mind: a) Almost from the first, some were threatened by him.  Everything he does, he does well. He shows up the rest of us by his attention to detail, his love for people, his consistent walk with the Lord. b) When he is no longer there–moving on, retiring, death–his colleagues know (often too late) that someone very special walked among us and we were too small (negative, narrow-minded, protective of our turf) to see it.

They are the rarest of all who care primarily for the things of the Lord Jesus Christ.  (And the way we see that is by their tender care for us and anyone about them in need.)

As unusual as it is to find someone who puts the welfare of others before his own, even rarer is the one whose main consideration is “What does Jesus Christ want?”

What will further the cause of Christ? What will exalt and glorify Him?

John the Baptist said of Jesus, “He must increase; I must decrease” (John 3:30).  God, as you know, took that literally and removed him from the scene shortly thereafter. But his work was done. The Lord Jesus gave him the very highest praise (Matthew 11:11).

The greatest praise any of us should ever covet is to hear His “well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:23).

Let that be the primary item on our bucket list.



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