#346 Paul’s Leadership Pipeline: Release Them

March 22, 2023

Paul deliberately called a team of emerging leaders around him and they traveled together, learning and developing as they journeyed from one place to another. As we observed in the previous issue there was a time of sending Timothy and others out and back again, stretching and expanding their leadership capacity.   

But later, Timothy had grown and matured as a leader. He likely was imprisoned for some time (see Hebrews 13:23) and then released. Now Paul sent him to Ephesus to be the pastor at that church.

As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain people not to teach false doctrines any longer (1 Timothy 1:3, NIV).

What was happening regarding Paul’s leadership pipeline? He had chosen Timothy, shown him how to lead, empowered him and stretched him. Now it was time to release Timothy to do the work he had been trained to do. This time Paul sent him alone for a longer-term assignment. Timothy was ready for a new role and Paul released him to do this work. Church history names Timothy as the bishop of Ephesus. Serving leaders observe from Paul what happens when leaders are released to new roles.

Releasing leaders develops capacity.     

Up to this point in Timothy’s growth and development he was learning leadership with Paul or with others on the team. Now Paul released Timothy to work on his own as another step to multiply leaders for the work. As Paul released Timothy to work in Ephesus he could also send Titus to do similar work in Crete (see Titus 1:5).  Paul strategically developed personal capacity and capacity on his team by releasing leaders to work on their own.

Some leaders stunt the growth of those under them by failing to fully release them to work on their own. But serving leaders realize that every developing leader will need to be released at some point to fully develop their own capacity. This does not mean leaving them alone as we will see in the next issue, but it does mean releasing them to do the work.

Releasing leaders develops competence.   

After years of training under Paul, Timothy is now in charge of the church Paul planted. All that he had learned over these years would now be sharpened and refined because he was in charge. He would hear from Paul occasionally through letters, but he had to make decisions and work with people. He was now the leader. There’s nothing like being in charge to develop competence as a leader!

Some leaders try to develop competence through training or lectures. There is certainly a place and time for that, but serving leaders realize that there is also a time to release a leader to fly on their own.

Releasing leaders develops confidence.  

Paul’s deep trust in Timothy helped develop Timothy’s confidence.  Imagine Timothy arriving at Ephesus, this time not as a companion of Paul but as the leader of the church. The first time someone called him “pastor” he likely wondered if they were talking to the wrong person! Paul wrote later and encouraged him not to let others look down on him because he was young (1 Timothy 4:12). But as Paul released Timothy into this role, he gained confidence in his own gifting and calling to do the work. Some leaders fail to release because they are not confident others can do the work. Serving leaders develop others until they can be released and inspire confidence in them as they do so.

For further reflection and discussion:

  • Am I usually too quick to release leaders or too slow? What would those around me say in response to this question? What do I need to change to be more balanced in this area?
  • What leaders am I currently developing and what is the next step in their growth? Which one(s) are ready to be released? (Reflect on what this means for each person).
  • What specific steps can I take to develop confidence in those whom I have been developing, especially in those who I have or will soon release?

Until next time, yours on the journey,

Jon Byler

In the next issue, we’ll look at how Paul developed his leadership pipeline by following them.

#345 Paul’s Leadership Pipeline: Stretch Them 

March 8, 2023  

Paul’s vision required a leadership pipeline that would continue to raise up mature leaders. So, as we have seen, he chose them, prepared them, showed them the way, and empowered them. One of the ways he empowered others was to give them assignments that stretched them. An example of this is seen when he sent two emerging leaders ahead of him.  

“He sent two of his helpers, Timothy and Erastus, to Macedonia, while he stayed in the province of Asia a little longer” (Acts 19:22, NIV). 

Later, Paul would send Timothy alone to Ephesus to lead the church Paul founded there. Both of these assignments, and many others, stretched Timothy to grow and develop as a leader. Paul carefully tailored these assignments to the level of maturity that Timothy possessed. They would stretch Timothy but not break him. They were designed to become increasingly difficult, stretching Timothy to keep growing. Paul demonstrates to serving leaders the power of stretching those in our leadership pipeline.  

Stretching leaders results in enhancement.  

Paul deliberately nurtured those around him, but he realized that they also needed to have some challenging assignments that would help them develop their own leadership capacity. As Paul sent Timothy and Erastus ahead of him to Macedonia, he was building their leadership capacity by enhancing their skills and abilities. They had watched Paul enter a new region and develop relationships and converts, now they would do it themselves. Paul sent them as a team on this initial assignment, probably recognizing that they would need the support, encouragement and help of each other to accomplish this task. They would help each other grow and improve.  

Some leaders are content to have followers who do their job well. But serving leaders seek to enhance the capacity of those they lead and give them assignments that stretch them.   

Stretching leaders results in engagement.  

Timothy and Erastus were already trusted members of the team and committed to Paul’s vision. But this assignment deepened their level of engagement as they rose to the challenge Paul placed in front of them. They had to figure things out on their own and find their way through whatever they found in Macedonia. Just as Paul recognized the increased value of a challenged worker, serving leaders today recognize that employees who are consistently challenged and stimulated by their work become stronger assets for the organization. 

Some leaders are content to have workers that don’t quit but serving leaders provide challenging assignments to help their team be fully engaged.  

Stretching leaders results in expansion.   

The result of Paul stretching these young leaders was that the team continued to expand. By the end of Paul’s leadership journey, he had developed multiple leaders that he could deploy as needed to diverse locations. Paul’s leadership pipeline allowed him to establish churches throughout the Roman world and he laid the foundation for the expansion that continues today!  

Some leaders seek to expand by adding members to their team. Serving leaders stretch the leaders they have and see expansion happen as a result.  

For further reflection and discussion: 

  • Who is a leader that I am investing in that would benefit from a stretching assignment?  (When you identify that person, use the rest of the questions to develop a plan of action.) 
  • What in this person’s history shows that they are ready for a new challenge?  
  • What would be several options of a stretching assignment for this person? 
  • Are any of these options too easy to stretch her/him? Are any so difficult that success would be unlikely?  
  • Which of the options seems like the right opportunity for this leader?  
  • What will I do to implement this option and when will I take the first step?  

Until next time, yours on the journey, 

Jon Byler 

In the next issue, we’ll examine how Paul developed his leadership pipeline by following them.