“Practice these things… be an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity… devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching… immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. 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.” (pieced together from 1 Tim. 4:12-16)
Here we have Paul writing this young kid that he has been a mentor and friend to for years how he is now to lead God’s people. It’s likely that at this point, Timothy was in his late twenties or early thirties. It seems clear that Paul is saying to him that faith is beyond a moment of time where emotions lead one to give their life over to Jesus. It’s also a life of spiritual disciplines, including public things such as love, faith and purity, being a good teacher and understanding what the ancient text of scripture says, but also “keeping a close watch on himself and his teaching”. Timothy is to “persist in this”, and by so doing will “save himself and his hearers”.
There is an act of the will involved here, and it is a response to radical grace. All of us who are followers of Jesus need to pursue him passionately. One great reason why many leaders fall into moral failure, greed, apathy, complacency, religiosity, and irrelevance is that they don’t persist in the pursuit of God. This pursuit is an adequate, beautiful, fulfilling replacement for any of the addictive behaviors and patterns that we as humans so easily fall into. We were created to be addicts of some sort- why not be addicted to and in pursuit of all that is lovely, true and joy-filled?