Have you ever been an intern? An intern is a student or trainee who works, often without pay, at a trade or occupation in order to gain knowledge or experience needed for their future success. One of the best experiences I have had lately is accompanying my son Jon to Arizona last weekend as he interviewed to be accepted as an intern in ministry at an amazing church and school. He has a calling on his heart from God, and a deep desire to make a difference. But with a calling and desire comes a serious obligation and responsibility to prepare and learn. That’s what he’s going to do with the next phase of his life.
Internships have always been part of the truly effective Christian life. We often refer to it as discipleship, but phases of great discipleship are clearly internships. Paul specialized in training people for effective ministry by inviting them to internships. In fact, that’s how he got his own start. When he first came to know Christ, God sent him to a man named Ananias, and Paul got his first training on how to make a major shift in his life. After he grew and developed in the basics, it was on to training for ministry. He hooked up with a couple named Aquila and Priscilla, and they lived together for awhile. Paul shared with them all he knew and had learned, and later they interned Apollos who also became a powerful leader in the early days of the church.
The most famous of Paul’s intern relationships, though, is with Timothy, his son in the Lord. He was a young man whose father was not a Christ-follower, and he had chosen the faith of his mother and grandmother. Paul had incredible potential for leadership and ministry, and chose to invite Timothy to learn from him. Timothy traveled with him, experienced all the ins and outs of life in ministry with him, and was privy to Paul’s thoughts and explanations of all they experienced. This internship made him exceptionally capable of leading the churches.
You and I are not Paul, of course, but we all have areas where God has enabled us to be successful. We have the opportunity and responsibility to help others younger and newer than we are in these areas to grow. We invite them to get close enough to us to learn by doing life with us, sharing our hearts and hopes, hard-won success, and failures along the way.
Where can you share? Can you help people grow in the skills and abilities of having a great marriage? Can you assist parents in figuring out how to navigate the rough waters of raising children? Do you know how to manage and grow finances? Do you know what it takes to get from novice to skilled, capable leader? Have you learned the secrets of deep faith that carries you through life’s greatest challenges? Do you know how to thrive while caring for elderly parents? Someone near you needs to know what you know. They need to learn it up close and personal. And you need to give it. Nothing solidifies your character like passing on what God has invested and developed in you. These interning relationships will become the greatest treasures of your life. They will be your legacy.
What if you are on the other end? What if you are a Timothy? Young, green, no experience, but lots of desire. There’s a Paul for you. Aggressively but humbly look for a Paul who can share life and experiences with you. Don’t waste that person’s time. Come prepared to sacrifice and learn. Prepare and follow, expecting life to come alive in new ways.
Relationships have always been God’s way—interning is one of the best.