Book Review: Dear Timothy

Dear Timothy is not what you would expect from the title. It is not another commentary on the wonderful epistles penned by the Apostle Paul. Rather, it is a compilation of letters written by Pastors with a combination of close to 700 years of experience. These letters are written to a “composite character,”[1] which gives the book a familial feeling as you read these warm letters filled with encouragement, warnings, and exhortation. The opening chapter on priorities is a proper mix of sober warning and brotherly pleading. This chapter stands out as one that reminds me that I will always be a Christian first; my allegiance is not to a calling as a pastor but to the One who has called, to King Jesus. I will keep the words of 1 Timothy 4:16 in mind as I seek to honor this reality, “Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.”

The words of Conrad Mbewe to “guard your heart”[2] remind me of Proverbs 4:23 which says, “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” I so appreciate Ted Tripp’s reminder to love my family, more specifically, my wife. Tripp refers to the famous passage from Ephesians 5:25, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” It is important that while I am Christian, I am also a husband who has been gifted with a wonderful wife. Therefore, I must love and care for her throughout my ministry and not use ministry as an excuse to neglect her. Additionally, C.J. Mahaney’s chapter “Cultivate Humility” is extremely beneficial in remember that ministry is not about building myself a platform nor is it about becoming famous or making something of myself. Rather, it is about building the kingdom of God to the glory of God alone.

Raymond Perron’s chapter “Watch Your Doctrine” is extremely helpful especially in a day when doctrine is being downplayed for multiple shticks. His words are firm but clear: “Your mission, dear brother, is to be a prophet of the Lord Jesus Christ. A prophet doesn’t make up his message, but faithfully delivers the message he has received.”[3]He helpfully points us to the words of Luke in Acts 2:42, “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” As I reflect on Perron’s words, I will remember the example set by the early church and maintain devotion to the apostles’ teaching as set forth in the word.

There are multiple examples of this books usefulness but that would require a far longer summary. In the end, this book is for anyone who is currently in the ministry or who seeks the ministry. It will encourage you, rebuke you, humble you but, most importantly, it will remind you of Who you serve. In summary, you do not serve yourself, but the Lord and His church. Remember that.

Purchase a copy here.


[1] Tom Ascol, “Preface to the 2004 Edition” in Dear Timothy: Letters on Pastoral Ministry, edited by Tom Ascol, (Cape Coral: Founders Press, 2016) 24.

[2] Conrad Mbewe, “Watch Your Life” in Dear Timothy: Letters on Pastoral Ministry, edited by Tom Ascol, (Cape Coral: Founders Press, 2016), 45.

[3] Raymond Perron, Ibid., 179.