I recall your sincere faith that first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and now, I am convinced, is in you also . . . But as for you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believed. You know those who taught you, and you know that from infancy you have known the sacred Scriptures, which are able to give you wisdom for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.2 Timothy 1:5; 3:14–15
The righteous thrive like a palm treePsalm 92:12–15
and grow like a cedar tree in Lebanon.
Planted in the house of the Lord,
they thrive in the courts of our God.
They will still bear fruit in old age,
healthy and green,
to declare, “The Lord is just;
he is my rock,
and there is no unrighteousness in him.”
One of the privileges of being a pastor is being able to visit people in their homes to get to know them. This past week I was able to spend some time with an older lady in our church. It was an especially lovely visit because there was not a pressing or immediate pastoral need. No one was ill. There was no distress. Only tea and conversation. I just wanted to take some time and chat with her. After all, she’s a longstanding member of our church. In fact, when I asked her how long she had been going to our church, she told me, “70 years.” Most Sundays, she attends church with her sister as well as one of her sons and one of her daughters.
When I read passages from Scripture like the ones from 2 Timothy above, she’s the sort of person that comes to mind. Like others of her generation, she has been and is a Eunice and Lois to upcoming generations within her sphere of influence. How many Timothys are there in the world and in the church because of all the Eunices and Loises?
Looking back, my mother certainly played a key role in my coming to faith. I also think of one of her sisters, my Aunt Evva, who served for decades as a missionary nun. While I didn’t see her often, her quiet example of the love of Jesus in simple but profound ways made a strong impression on me.
I have always found it interesting that it was Timothy’s mother and grandmother who led him to faith and who nurtured his love of the Scriptures. His father is never mentioned. This might not mean anything at all, but as someone who grew up without a father around (and there’s no reason to assume that this was Timothy’s situation) Paul’s words to his protege resonate deeply. Perhaps Timothy’s father was simply not a Christian. Though many studies have shown that young people are more likely to become people of faith if the father is also a Christian, it certainly isn’t the only factor.
Usually you go on a pastoral visit to encourage the person you’re visiting. You’re there for them. Truth is, however, I am often encouraged by visiting the people in my church. Hopefully they enjoy the visit too, but I normally come away with a sense of joy and gratitude. Even though I am not related to anyone in my congregation, I still have many Eunices and Loises (men and women!) in my church who are wiser and humbler than I. They teach me a great deal, as much by their example as by their words.
In a culture that often comes close to idolizing youth and youthfulness, taking time to visit, to speak to, ask questions of, and to listen to those of older generations is essential if we’re going to learn the ways of Jesus, and be trained in spiritual resilience and maturity. Indeed, it is the older saints in our churches who can help prepare us so that one day we can also be a Eunice or Lois to younger believers. That’s a role any follower of Jesus would be privileged to have.