#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.