April 17, 2023
We have reflected on several deliberate actions that Paul took to develop his leadership pipeline strategically moving people from one level to the next in their capacity. One action that Paul continually practiced was encouraging those he wanted to develop. Consider these examples from his communication with Timothy:
For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands (2 Timothy 1:6).
Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity (1 Timothy 4:12).
19 I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, that I also may be cheered when I receive news about you. 20 I have no one else like him, who will show genuine concern for your welfare. 21 For everyone looks out for their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. 22 But you know that Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel(Philippians 2:19-22).
We sent Timothy, who is our brother and co-worker in God’s service in spreading the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you in your faith (1 Thessalonians 3:2).
Paul provided Timothy with both private words of encouragement and public affirmation of his gifts and calling. He understood that encouragement results in better leaders and his example shows serving leaders what encouragement produces.
Encouraging leaders produces growth in others.
Paul encouraged Timothy to grow and develop, to “fan into flame” the gifts that he had. Imagine the impact it had for Timothy to hear from Paul that he had a gift within him. An emerging leader often does not even imagine their leadership capacity and it takes someone else to point out their gifts. When an established leader points out the gifts of an emerging leader it is a great encouragement and provides a desire to grow. Paul also called forth what was to become a flame, likely only a tiny spark at the time. But Paul focused on what Timothy would become. What a motivation to grow and develop! Some leaders point to their own gifts but serving leaders highlight the gifts of those they lead. As they do they develop leaders who are growing.
Encouraging leaders produces confidence in others.
As Paul encouraged Timothy, he became a strong leader that “proved himself.” Paul’s public encouragement of Timothy’s strength must have inspired confidence in him. What a confidence builder to know that a mature leader believes that I can do this!
Some leaders believe that pointing out the weaknesses of others will help them become strong. Serving leaders don’t ignore weaknesses, but they encourage and affirm signs of positive growth. And as they encourage, serving leaders build confident leaders.
Encouraging leaders produces reproduction in others.
Paul encouraged Timothy and it is not surprising that Timothy would “strengthen and encourage” the believers in Thessalonica. Encouragement cascades from one leader to another.
Some leaders think they can reproduce leaders by training. But serving leaders reproduce by their example, they model the way. They recognize that leadership is more often caught than taught. So they encourage, and reproduce encouragers!
Do you want growing, confident and reproducing leaders? Lead with encouragement!
For further reflection and discussion:
- Would those who follow me describe me as an encouraging leader? Why or why not?
- Do I more easily offer private words of encouragement or public words? What step can I take to balance both?
- Which person who follows me would I like to encourage? (When you have identified that person answer the following questions about him/her.)
- What gifts do I see in that person?
- What will these gifts produce in the future?
- How can I communicate this privately?
- How can I communicate this publicly?
- When will I do this?
Until next time, yours on the journey,
Jon Byler In the next issue, we’ll examine how Paul developed his leadership pipeline by loving them.