“We’re Not Running A Residency Program!” (1 Timothy 4:12-13)

Many years ago, I was in charge of recruitment for my former pathology group. During my tenure, I was privileged to interview many qualified pathologists who later became successful partners. I also interviewed others who generated divisive opinions. One young pathologist had just completed his residency training. He was clearly intelligent and his sparkling personality charmed many on the selection committee. Yet, it was evident that he would need a great deal of coaching if he were to successfully become a member of our group. Various suggestions were made but everyone realized it would require a huge commitment of time, greater than what we had previously done for other new hires. After a tense discussion, one of my partners, who was the president of the group, dismissively shook his head and declared, “We’re not running a residency program. I pass.”

First jobs are always difficult. Very rarely is an applicant ready to hit the ground running and function as an equal team member. There needs to be a champion, someone who will support and defend the new hire. There also needs to be a period of orientation; the unknown variable is for how long?

Most of us remember our first real jobs. I certainly do. Everyday, I felt I had to prove myself over and over again. Thankfully, I had a champion in one of the partners, who supported and coached me. It is reassuring to know that Timothy, the young minister and protege of the Apostle Paul, undoubtedly felt this same anxiety when he began his ministry, leading to these words of encouragement from his esteemed mentor. 

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. 

1 Timothy 4:12-13 (NIV)

In his first letter to Timothy, the Apostle Paul encouraged his protege to stand firm and focus on being an ambassador for God and not be concerned about what others may think of him or unfairly judge him because of his youth and inexperience. Paul offered this practical advice. 

Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you. Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. 

1 Timothy 4:13-15 (NIV)

Church historians record that Timothy successfully pastored the first church at Ephesus. It is sobering to learn that even this great leader of the early Christian church needed time to convince his peers that he was up to the task. The Bible does not tell us how much time passed before Timothy was accepted and since this was the early church, there were no role models to determine how long an orientation period was needed. Timothy had a champion with the Apostle Paul and the two letters that he wrote to Timothy were circulated throughout the nascent Church, encouraging the church members to support him. 

Every organization, secular and ecclesiastical, needs to create a program to orient new hires and train them to become leaders. The criteria will differ for each but thanks be to God that He gives us a model to base our decisions. A new hire needs a champion to coach them and encourage others to support them. 

Love and trust in the Lord; seek His will in your life.

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