The Marks of A Missionary Servant

SCRIPTURE: Philippians 2:19-24

19 If the Lord Jesus is willing, I hope to send Timothy to you soon for a visit. Then he can cheer me up by telling me how you are getting along. 20 I have no one else like Timothy, who genuinely cares about your welfare. 21 All the others care only for themselves and not for what matters to Jesus Christ. 22 But you know how Timothy has proved himself. Like a son with his father, he has served with me in preaching the Good News. 23 I hope to send him to you just as soon as I find out what is going to happen to me here. 24 And I have confidence from the Lord that I myself will come to see you soon.


The passage before us tonight is a brief interlude in which Paul commends his servant Timothy. Many years ago, I heard and adage that stuck in my mind….”He who praises all, praises none.” I don’t think Paul, the highly driven Type A personality was guilty of praising all. Actually, what we see here in Philippians is quiet rare. The setting must be considered: Paul is in prison in Rome and his future is uncertain. We do believe that he will get released because the Jews did not have formal charges against him and his case got thrown out of court, we believe but we have no proof of this theory. Either way, Paul does not know what is going to happen to him from one day till the next so he begins this passage with, “If the LORD Jesus is willing, I hope send Timothy to you soon for a visit.”

It is not certain, but we think He chooses Timothy because [1] He is perfect for the job [2] He is trustworthy and [3] There is no one else available. Some how Paul’s other associated had gotten wrapped up in their own ministries and were no longer available to serve Paul.

After spending some time studying this passage and reflecting on previous study; I have conclude that Timothy is the perfect servant, a much better servant than Paul. Paul was a leader. He was a Type-A, heavenly driven lion {Choleric}. Cholerics  are leaders and directors. They seek to be in control of situations, to be on top, to be the best. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they are all driven to reach the top of the corporate ladder or anything, or that they all want to have leadership roles, but in day-to-day interactions with other people, they have a tendency towards one-upsmanship. They use imperative, commanding language, wording things as orders rather than requests. Compare “get me a drink” to “can I have a drink?”. They probably use phrases like ‘deal with it’, ‘get over yourself’, ‘stop being such a wimp’, etc, or may start sentences with “look”, or maybe “look, buddy” or “listen, pal” or things like that.

They word things with confidence and certainty.  They are firm and forceful in their approach to problems. They believe in ‘tough love’, and try to ‘help’ others by challenging them to prove themselves, as they themselves would. If met by opposition, they react confrontationally to defend themselves. They are constantly trying to be ‘dominant’ in every situation, subconsciously, either by being louder and better than those around them, or more restrained and therefore superior to those who lose their cool.

Most bullies are choleric, but few cholerics are bullies. Many will in fact stand up to those who bully others, rather than letting them get away with things. Their confidence and demanding natures make them natural leaders, though this doesn’t mean that they would necessarily enjoy leadership positions; they’re just more likely to take charge if necessary rather than fumbling around worrying. They will ‘challenge’ others aggressively in order to show their respect for the person’s strength. They believe that it is important to ‘prove oneself’. They have a tendency to argue for reasons that are different to the melancholic. They’re more driven by a desire to prove themselves greater than whoever they’re arguing with, to assert that they are right, rather than to reach some kind of truth or compromise.

They love competition… but hate to lose. They are defiant of authority, challenging them as if to knock them off the top spot and assert their own dominance as the alpha of this pack, the leader of this tribe. They can be very condescending to those that they look down upon. They may take pleasure in the pain, misfortune, or humiliation of people they are not on good terms with. This is because it brings them pleasure to feel superior to others. “Haha! Look at that loser messing up! Hilarious!” Just of opposite of a Phlegmatic who is apt to show compassion.

Long story short: Paul was a great leader but he did not play second fiddle to anyone other than Jesus. In other words, he would have made a poor servant. I’ll put it this way, if I get to choose teams, I’ll go with Barnabas and John Mark. Timothy is another story. He has the temperament of a servant, of a number two man. Paul said in verse 20, “I have no one else like Timothy.” I believe Paul was being sincere.

I. First of all, Timothy had a genuine servants attitude. Timothy was a phlegmatic. Timothy was meek, gentle, submissive, quiet and introverted. He probably uses as few words as possible. He was not necessarily timid. His name means “God honoring” but he may have been lacking in self-confidence. He certainly did not have the confidence of Paul. Phlegmatics are easy to get along with: they often take the path of least resistance. They love peace and hate conflict which means they have a tendency to avoid conflict if possible. They are the opposite of a know-it-all: they generally know more than they let on. They think of others first and always work for a win/win. They have little trouble obeying authority. Rebellion against established rules makes them uncomfortable. They are afraid of bothering others and are anything but pushy. They are quick to apologize and will even take blame to avoid conflict. They are calm and easy going and they do not like to stand out in a crowd. They have no desire to lead but are perfectly happy to follow.

Sometimes Phlegmatics are viewed as lazy and indecisive but they can show courage and leadership: they are much more cautious than their counter parts. Generally speaking, they do not like leadership roles and will hand off the first chance they get. Obviously Timothy was cut out to be a Servant. Some things that are hard for us were easy for him. Sometimes there is not a trustworthy lion in the crowd and I had rather follow a faithful camel as an unfaithful lion. Sometimes camels have to lead and sometimes lions have to follow.

II. Secondly, Timothy had a genuine concern for others. This is big. Paul wanted someone he could trust but ideally, he wanted someone who felt the same way he did about the Philippians and Timothy was the man. Paul said, He has a genuine concern for the Philippians welfare. The Greek word for welfare can also be translated State, it refers to everything around you: body, soul, estate, etc. Every part of our being and surroundings. There are 50,000 Southern Baptist Churches. The average SBC has 396 members which is more than enough for one shepherd. Southern Baptist strategist believe that bigger would be better but that has not proved to be true: Southern Baptist or in decline. I have friend that says in comical way that he has pastored every church in Alabama that runs less than 100 in Sunday School. We often make fun of the small churches and the pastor’s who lead them but we may have overlooked an important part of ministry, “Making people feel genuinely loved and cared for.” I wonder if people believe that we care about their welfare. Paul did and Timothy did also. A good servant has to care about the welfare of the people he is serving.

III. Timothy had a Genuine Faith. Paul said in 2 Timothy 1…I remember your genuine faith, for you share the faith that first filled your grandmother Lois and your mother, Eunice. And I know that same faith continues strong in you. This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you. For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

When we think of genuine, we think of what is actual, true or real. The Greek word Paul uses goes beyond our definition somewhat. To be genuine is to be unfeigned, undisguised, sincere, real, true, hones, unaffected by the false, unforced, heartfelt, whole hearted and bona fide. In other word’s Timothy was the real deal.

A part of his genuine faith was his conditioning and his experience. Timothy had good roots. His mother and grand mother had grounded him in the OT scriptures and this served as a great foundation to his ministry. I too had great mentors when I was a child. I spent last Saturday with an old friend and those we are in our 60’s, we could recall our beginner teacher, primary teacher, junior and so on. We talked about each one of them and what they contributed to our lives. They along with my mother laid the foundation of our ministry.

Paul took Timothy along on his second Missionary Journey. Timothy was probably in his early 30’s. He became Paul’s disciple. Paul used Timothy as his envoy, his ambassador. Timothy suffered the same conditions as Paul. He was imprisoned with Paul on a couple of occasions. Paul loved Timothy. He claimed him as a son. Paul was anxious in Athens. He was worried about Timothy and relieved when Timothy and the others showed up. Timothy grew in faith and became more than a son to Paul, he became a fellow worker [Rom. 16] and brother [2 Cor. 1:1]. You can hang out with the likes of Paul and not get your faith tested. Timothy was tried and true. He had proven his trustworthiness.


Paul said, I hope to send him to you just as soon as I find out what is going to happen to me here. And I have confidence from the Lord that I myself will come to see you soon. Paul’s future was uncertain. He was in prison and would face Nero who was sexually perverted, mentally unbalanced and morally bankrupt. We are talking about a man he poisoned his own mother three times, then put her to sea in a sinking boat [she swam back to shore] so he dispatched an assassin to beat her to death with a club. How would you like to be awaiting trail with this man as the presiding officer of the court? Life is filled with uncertainties even for the believer but it is never without HOPE. Hope is what kept Paul going. Hope is what keeps us all going. Hope kept Christian going en route to the Celestial City. Do you have hope tonight: real genuine hope.

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus Christ, my righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

On Christ the solid Rock I stand: all other ground is sinking sand.