This Bible study is a companion to the May Encourager’s Devotion: In Search of Spiritual Mothers and Fathers. For additional studies in the Encourager’s Devotional Series, click here. Answers to this study can be found here.
For information on Timothy and the relationship between Timothy and Paul, see the following passages. Make notes on Timothy’s background, Paul’s expectations of Timothy, things Paul did for Timothy, and signs that Timothy was growing in the faith as a result of Paul’s influence. You might also think about how Paul’s investment in Timothy’s life brought rewards to Paul’s life as well.
2 Timothy 1:2-14
In the book Groups: The Life-giving Power of Community, authors Ortburg, Pederson, and Poling list some of the “forms that encouragement takes.” Read the texts related to their list and make any notes that come to mind as you read. Also, if anyone comes to mind as needing any particular form of encouragement, write their names down in the space provided in the “Application” section.
*To believe in someone, to see their giftedness and ability to contribute:
1 Timothy 4:12-15
2 Timothy 1:6-7
*To exhort someone, to build their character by confronting them even when it may involve saying hard things:
2 Timothy 4:2
2 Thesselonians 3:11-13
*To comfort, console, give courage to:
2 Corinthians 1:3-7
2 Thesselonians 2:16-17
*To challenge, to urge, to entreat one to greater heights, deeper growth:
*To express support and affirmation through tangible gifts:
Romans 15:25-27; 2 Corinthians 8:1-7
Read 1 Thessalonians 2:7-12; 17-20 and contemplate the following:
What criteria are established for those who would lead to be spiritual parents? Hint: Paul says he and his companions were “____________, _____________________, and ________________” among those who believed.
If we are to encourage others to “live lives worthy of God,” then we must strive to do the same. Take some time to pray and ask God to help you search your heart for any attitudes or lifestyle changes which might be necessary to bring you closer to your goals for holiness. Record any convictions or thoughts which come to mind after prayer.
In verses 11-12, Paul says, “as a father deals with his own children” he _____________________ the Thessalonians, he ____________________ them, and he urged them to ______________ __________ __________ ____ _____ ________________.
Do you have any “children in the faith” for whom you are doing these things?
Paul expresses such a concern for his spiritual children that he has an “intense ______________” to see them and has made every __________________________” to be with them.
Can you say that about anyone in your life?
If not, what might be stopping you from becoming a spiritual parent, what hesitations might you have? (For example: feeling unqualified, busy lifestyle, lack of concern)
You might spend some time praying that God would increase your desire to expend the effort necessary to play this role in someone’s life.
In verses 19-20, what does Paul say is the reward for being a spiritual parent to our brothers and sisters in Christ?
For each of the “forms that encouragement takes,” write the names of anyone you think may need that type of encouragement. Then for each person listed, jot down ideas as to how you might encourage them.
- To believe in someone, to see their giftedness and ability to contribute:
- To exhort someone, to build their character by confronting them even when it may involve saying hard things:
- To comfort, console, give courage to
- To challenge, to urge, to entreat one to greater heights, deeper growth
- To express support and affirmation through tangible gifts
This month’s devotion mentioned people who struggle with occasions such as Mother’s Day and Father’s Day:
- Those who have lost their parents, or the mother or father of their children.
- People who do not come from healthy homes
- Those who long to be parents but cannot
Do you know anyone who struggles with these holidays? Can you invite them into your home or out to lunch? Is there a way you can acknowledge that you understand their struggle?
Can you come alongside someone as a spiritual parent?
As you think of the role of spiritual parenting, think in terms of what a child needs to learn and grow:
- Do you know anyone that’s just beginning to learn how to walk in the faith? How might you help them?
- Do you know anyone that’s learning how to do something new? How might you train them?
- Do you know anyone who is learning how to get along with others, or being tested in this area? Do you have any life lessons you can impart to them?
- Do you know anyone who’s been hurt (physically, emotionally, or spiritually)? How might you help bandage their wounds and let them know they will be okay?
What do you plan to do in response to this month’s devotion?
 John Ortburg, Laurie Pederson, Judson Poling, Groups: The Life-giving Power of Community. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2000, p. 129.