Calvary Road Baptist Church

“WANTED: A RIGHT HAND MAN”

Philippians 2.19-24

Pastors can’t be everywhere at once. They can’t do everything that needs to be done by themselves. A man with leadership responsibilities knows there are some things you can delegate and some things you have to do yourself. But what do you do when the things you simply have to attend to yourself as a pastor are too numerous for one man to accomplish? Ah, that’s what the pastor’s right hand man is for. A right hand man is a younger guy who can do what needs to be done almost as well as the pastor would do it. A right hand man is a younger guy who makes it possible for the pastor to go on vacation without needing to call the office every day to see if the office is still there. A right hand man is the guy who makes it possible for the pastor to deal with two emergencies at one time, pastor dealing with one and the right hand man dealing with the other one, with both emergencies turning out okay.

The Apostle Paul was a gospel minister who needed, and who had, a younger right hand man. Keep in mind that a right hand man is not another way of referring to a deacon. A deacon is a whole other thing than a young right hand man. Deacons should not ever be seen as stand-ins for gospel ministers since deacons are not charged with ministering the Word. Deacons are qualified men who free gospel preachers to devote their attention to prayer and the ministry of the Word. However, the right hand man might very well be a faithful young Christian man who is not yet qualified, because of youth and inexperience, for the pastorate. He may not even be called to the ministry. The name of Paul’s right hand man, at least for a time in his ministry, was a considerably younger fellow who was never insofar as we can tell a deacon, named Timothy. Timothy was the guy who could pinch hit for the Apostle Paul without an appreciable loss in either batting average or home run power. He was, by the grace of God, a truly remarkable help to Paul in a different way than deacons compliment a pastor’s ministry in a church.

Some of you probably think that in order to be a good right hand man you have to have a great deal of talent or natural ability, that you have to have a lot of things working in your favor. However, if you thought that you’d be wrong. Timothy, if you will remember, was half Jewish and half Gentile, so the cultural things worked against him with both Jewish and Gentile people.[1] Timothy, if you will remember, was quite young, so the age factor worked against him in a world that highly esteemed experience and longevity.[2] Timothy, if you will remember, was not a particularly healthy guy, in a world, much like ours, that valued vigor and physical strength and stamina.[3] And finally, there is evidence that Timothy, if you will remember, was not a particularly brave fellow, but an extremely mild and timid sort of young man.[4] So, you can see that by reason of ethnicity, by reason of age, by reason of disposition, by reason of physical presence and the impression he would make on people, Timothy did not have what the world would think to be the makings of a good right hand man. However, he was exceptional, despite his seeming liabilities, because God blessed him with six assets that have nothing to do with skill or gifts, but with the character of a truly spiritual man who loved the Lord Jesus Christ.

Turn to Philippians 2.19-24. When you have found that text, stand and read the passage that suggests the existence of these distinct qualifications:

19     But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timotheus shortly unto you, that I also may be of good comfort, when I know your state.

20     For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state.

21     For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s.

22     But ye know the proof of him, that, as a son with the father, he hath served with me in the gospel.

23     Him therefore I hope to send presently, so soon as I shall see how it will go with me.

24     But I trust in the Lord that I also myself shall come shortly.

THE FIRST CHARACTER ASSET TIMOTHY HAD THAT PAUL VALUED WAS ACCURATE COMMUNICATION

Verse 19 reads, “But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timotheus shortly unto you, that I also may be of good comfort, when I know your state.”

The Philippians wanted Timothy to come to them, and Paul’s intention was to send him. But notice what Paul’s reasoning for sending Timothy was: “that I also may be of good comfort, when I know your state.” The Philippians would be comforted by Timothy when he arrived and tended to their spiritual needs, but Paul would himself be comforted when Timothy reported back to him. Such could only happen if Timothy was the kind of young man who could be relied upon to accurately convey needed information. That, folks, is a rare commodity.

You and I both know that few are those individuals who don’t add to or take away information from situations they have seen or been privy to. Some people are megaphones, who magnify things, while others are filters, who do the opposite by understating. To illustrate: We once had a staff member here, years ago, who used to say things like, “You’d better not tell Brother Xxxxx that. Boy, will he get mad if you tell him that.” Here’s another one I like: “Pastor, everyone’s really upset about this. You’d better do something.” Everyone is upset, or you are upset? Timothy had that rare character trait of being a really accurate communicator because he was scrupulously honest, #1, and because he had no personal agenda or ax to grind, #2. He did not see his assignment as influencing the Apostle Paul’s ministry by the information he passed on to him.

THE SECOND VALUED CHARACTER TRAIT TIMOTHY HAD WAS ASSURED CARE

Two things in verse 20, which reads: “For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state.”

Timothy was like-minded with Paul. In other words, they were in tune with each other. They were on the same wave length. They were on the same page of the play book. Tragically, Paul had to write that Timothy was the only guy like that that he knew, but what Timothy achieved with Paul is a doable thing. You can be like-minded with a spiritual leader if you want to badly enough. You can learn to prize what he prizes and value what he values if you want to badly enough.

Therefore, because he was like-minded with Paul he was, therefore, predictable. Because he and Timothy were so much in tune with each other, Paul could write, “who will naturally care for your state.” In other words, predictable. Do you realize how important it is to be predictable? Timothy was predictably spiritual and Paul was assured that he would care for the Philippians.

TIMOTHY’S THIRD CHARACTER TRAIT WAS ABSOLUTE COMMITMENT

Verse 21: “For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s.”

We live in a petty, selfish world in which everyone looks out for number one. There’s nothing wrong with looking out for number one, so long as number one is Jesus Christ. But with so many people, number one is self and self-interest. When was the last time you heard of someone passing up an opportunity for self-advancement so he could advance the cause of Christ? It just doesn’t happen very often any more. Let me tell you something. Everyone wants to do the job he wants to do, fulfill only his own personal goals, and achieve only his own dreams. Don’t you think Timothy had personal goals and aspirations as a young man? Don’t you think he had a glorious career in mind? I do. And I think of Bro. K, who was a rising star in the Three M corporation in Europe when God called him into the ministry. People like these deny self to seek the things which are Christ’s.

Sadly, gone are the days when you hear of men walking up to a pastor and saying, “I want to work for you.” The pastor says, “But I can’t pay you, the church doesn’t have the money to put another man on.” The fellow responds, “That’s okay. I’ll work full time to support my family and pay my own way.” My friends, that’s what a man I know has done for years.

“But pastor, shouldn’t a man spend time with his family?” Don’t give me that. Of course, I do. However, it wasn’t until the twentieth century that men ever worked less than eighty hours a week. You’re going to tell me that for 4000 years before the turn of the last century there were no godly husbands and dads? What’s missing these days, in my judgment, is serious commitment to the cause of Christ and the determination to advance Christ’s cause even to the rationing of our preferences. Commitment. That’s what Timothy had. That’s what the cause of Christ needs more of. How much time do young Christian men waste late at night playing computer games, when they could be serving God or preparing to serve God? What a tragic and needless waste of resources.

THE FOURTH TRAIT WAS BEING AN APPROVED CO-LABORER

Verse 22: “But ye know the proof of him, that, as a son with the father, he hath served with me in the gospel.”

It’s amazing the number of people who want position without paying for it, who want prestige without putting forth the corresponding performance. For Timothy to be recognized as Paul’s right hand man a high price had to be paid, in advance. Paul told the Philippians, “But ye know the proof of him.” In other words, “You have seen this fellow tried, tested, and proven before your very eyes.” That’s what the word “proof” means. Paul wasn’t trying to pass off onto those people an unknown quantity. He continued, “that, as a son with the father.” What does Paul mean by this? He means that when it comes problem solving time, this young man’s approach to spiritual difficulties, his approach to the ministry, will be just like a son’s approach who is following his dad in a skilled trade. In other words, he will do the job just like his dad would have done the job. These Philippians haven’t asked for Paul to send Timothy because he wasn’t like Paul, but precisely because he was as much like Paul as could possibly be expected. And based upon what evidence, might we ask, could Paul justify saying that they knew the proof of Timothy and that he was like a son following in his father’s footsteps? They had seen the man serving with Paul in the ministry. When Paul was up in the middle of the night, Timothy was up in the middle of the night. When Paul arrived for the service, Timothy also showed up. When it was time to pray, no matter what time it was to pray, Timothy was there with Paul to pray. He stuck to Paul like glue.

“But pastor, I live too far away. I have too many kids. I work too many hours. I have car problems. I’m physically weak. I get scared easily.” My friend, not every man can be a right hand man. I’m just telling you what Timothy did to be Paul’s right hand man. When it came time that a right hand man was needed, there was a guy who was already an approved co-laborer of Paul’s. He had already put in the thankless hours. He had already given enough people face time that Paul could use him as an approved stand-in.

Fifth, TIMOTHY POSSESSED THE CHARACTER TRAIT OF BEING ABLE IN CRISES

What are you like in a crisis? What are you like when the roof falls in? What is your personal response to catastrophe? The last thing in the world a spiritual leader needs around him is some emotional lightweight who runs around shouting, “The sky is falling, the sky is falling.” Water heater goes out on Sunday morning, what do you do? Duh, you turn off the water to the house and go to church. Timothy was the kind of guy who knew priorities and how to think come crunch time.

Though we might infer from Second Timothy 1.7 that Timothy was a timid sort of fellow, I rather think that he was developing into the kind of guy who stood tall during crisis situations, even if he did not start out as the bravest of men. In other words, he would rise to the occasion. He was a fellow you could depend on when you had to have him. What causes me to say this about Timothy? Look at verses 23 & 24:

23     Him therefore I hope to send presently, so soon as I shall see how it will go with me.

24     But I trust in the Lord that I also myself shall come shortly.

The Philippians wanted Timothy right now. But Paul wasn’t going to send Timothy right now. He was going to send Epaphroditus right now. Timothy would be sent along in a bit. And then Paul would come if he could. You see, Paul was in a real crisis situation himself. To help manage his situation, he kept Timothy with him. Why? Timothy was a good man to have around in a crisis. Then, as soon as Paul found out whether or not he would live or die, he would then send Timothy on to deal with their crisis. So you see, Timothy was a valuable asset and Paul made sure he got the most out of him. Either in Rome or in Philippi, Timothy was the man for the tough jobs. What a guy!

ONE FINAL CHARACTER TRAIT, NOT SPECIFICALLY FOUND IN OUR TEXT, BUT AN APT DESCRIPTION, I’M SURE, OF TIMOTHY, NEVERTHELESS. ALWAYS CHRIST-LIKE.

Look at what Paul wants the Philippians to be like, according to Philippians 2.2-8:

2      Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.

3      Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.

4      Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.

5      Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

6      Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:

7      But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:

8      And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

They read this and then they read Paul’s wonderful description of Timothy? Don’t think Paul isn’t making a connection in their thinking. A connection could not help but be made. Timothy was not spiritually perfect. There are discernible shortcomings in his life. But he is a wonderfully godly and spiritual young man. And really, it’s being Christ-like that is the jumping off point for all those other character traits that made him such a valuable right hand man to the Apostle Paul.

Did you know that I used to have a right hand man? A good one. A good right hand man is a rarity these days. This one had his faults, as every man does, but he was a good right hand man, like Timothy was. I wish I had had him longer than I did. I’d like to have another right hand man someday. I hope God raises one up here at Calvary Road Baptist Church, or two, or three, or four. And they don’t have to be called to the ministry, particularly. They just have to want to serve God with me.

No particular talents are needed. No great skills are required. They just have to have six character traits, that are well within the reach of most Christian men at some point in their lives:

·        Accurate communication, the result of honesty and having no personal agenda.

·        Assured care, being on the same wavelength I am on and valuing what I value.

·        Absolute commitment, meaning he will deny himself and seek the things which are Christ’s.

·        Approved co-laborer, working alongside me long enough to be known by those who know me, to do things the way I would do them, and having served me in the gospel.

·        Able in crises, not some fellow who quits right when you need him, or who flies off the handle in a firestorm.

·        And finally, always Christ-like. Certainly, Timothy grew into this over time, as is the case with every godly Christian.

Would that God would raise up a dozen such young men here at Calvary Road Baptist Church. Should I ever think of hiring a man to serve in this ministry with me like Timothy did with Paul, you folks make sure that the man I am considering meets the qualifications Timothy met. And even if God has not called you into the pastoral ministry to serve with me, you can still hold Timothy up as an example to measure up to to become my right hand man in some area of ministry, even if you are not in the ministry full-time. Strive to meet Timothy’s character traits and just see what God will do with you. What did God do with Timothy? After serving as Paul’s right hand man, he was called to serve as the pastor of the church in Ephesus. At the least, being a pastor’s right hand man gives a young Christian insights into the gospel ministry that cannot help but serve him well in the years ahead as he serves God.



[1] Acts 16.1

[2] 1 Timothy 4.12

[3] 1 Timothy 5.23

[4] 1 Corinthians 16.10



Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org