You see kids, I’m 32 years old and painfully aware of how inexperienced and raw I am as a leader. I have some great coaches/examples and I’ve read a lot of books; but in most instances I’m learning on the fly. Rarely do I come across a situation that I have encountered before. I’ve read that I should count my inexperience as a blessing because it drives me to humility, prayer, and dependence on the Spirit…but it doesn’t feel like a blessing. Recently a ton of different situations have arisen in almost every area of my life that I wish I had an tested and proven answer for.
“Never fear. This problem is exactly like that time when I was fighting rabid gorillas in the deepest darkest corners of the African rainforest. All we need to do is…”
Like in Three Amigos when they kept referring to the movies they have done in the past.
Ned (preparing to defend the town against El Guappo): “Remember in Amigos, Amigos, Amigos! Towns people, do you have any special skills?”
Towns person: “We can sew.”
Ned: “You can sew! Well that is something! Sewing! I wish we had known that earlier.”
This weekend as I read Paul’s letters to Timothy and Titus I wondered if they felt as in over their head as I do. Paul sent Timothy to Ephesus and Titus to Crete. Both were instructed to help build the church and to fight off heretical teachers.
Nuggets On Leadership from Paul to Timothy and Titus.
First lets look at the nuggets Paul gave to the two young men about being leaders in the church:
In 1st Timothy 1:3-7 Paul explained to Timothy the “win” or the intended result of leadership: But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. For some men, straying from these things, have turned aside to fruitless discussion wanting to be teachers of the Law, even though they do not understand either what they are saying or matters about which they make confident assertions.
This passage hits my heart. In a culture were church leaders are primarily judged by their ability to preach the temptation to use the congregation’s response to sermons as a primary measure of success is overwhelming. After every sermon a pastor can’t help but wait to hear what people have to say like expectant child whose been told he will be given some candy. If the response is good we skip around the room singing “They like me! They really like me!”
Using this as a measurement for success drives us to try and create a positive response from the congregation; and congregations like it when you are smentertaining (that is smart + entertaining). I myself have led many a “fruitless discussion” in hopes of being declared a “teacher.” Trying to measure how many people you lead to “love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith” is much more intense and frustrating. The biggest downer being that I (the professional clergy) rarely get any credit. The person loving gets all the praise.
No fun for me. Jeffy’s ego doesn’t likey.
Paul gave more leadership insight in 4:8-12.
On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come…For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the savior of all men, especially of believers…Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself and example of those who believe.
From this passage we see our motivation as leaders should be – hope (substitute faith, trust, passion for) God. Therefore we must discipline the growth of our relationship with Him and live as an example to other believers. These thoughts are reinforced in 1st Timothy 4:16, 2nd Timothy 2:15, and 2nd Timothy 2:23-26.
At the end of 1st Timothy Paul told Timothy that ministry is not about the money. He encouraged Timothy to be satisfied with “food and covering.” 1st Timothy 6:7-8.
One final nugget from the three letters. Paul encouraged Timothy toward certain actions (2nd Timothy 4:1-5)
- Preach the word (this is another topic for another time, but worth mentioning here…Paul is not talking about delivering a sermon from a pulpit).
- Be ready in season and out of season.
- Reprove, rebuke, and exhort with great patience and instruction.
- Be sober in all things.
- Endure hardships.
- Do the work of an evangelist.
So lets try to wrap our heads around this picture…
- A leader’s motivation should be their hope in God.
- They should therefore be disciplining themselves to expand that hope; and they should be living as an example to other believers.
- They should be judging their success by the love they produce.
- And if/when it comes to payment, they should be satisfied with food to eat and a roof over their head.
Overseers / Deacons / Elders / and other Gobbledly-Gook
“Why,” you might be asking yourself, “has Jeff left out the large passages about Deacons, Elders, and Overseers?”
I will tell you why.
Those passages discuss the qualifications for the positions of service. They don’t discuss the job description or give advice to those leaders; therefore they aren’t really relevant to this study (beside to point out that leadership positions did exist in the early church).
We are reaching the home strech of this study. Almost done.