Timothy: Hungry to Learn

#350, May 31, 2023

In the previous series we looked at what Paul did as a serving leader to develop his leadership pipeline. Our primary focus was on what Paul did to help Timothy grow in leadership. In this series we’ll flip the focus to Timothy and look at what he did that helped develop his leadership capacity. Although we don’t have any recorded words of Timothy, his life is a model for us in learning how we can grow and develop our own capacity and how we can encourage the heart and actions of Timothy in those we lead. Consider Paul’s words to him about learning:

14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15 and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 3:14–15, NIV).

At the heart of Timothy’s leadership journey was his lifelong passion to learn and grow.  His life is an example to all serving leaders.

Timothy acknowledged the priority of learning.

Timothy was likely only a year or two old in his new faith when Paul requested him to join the team. He was young and inexperienced, and he realized that he had a lot to learn. He would spend the next season of life with Paul who was already an effective leader. But Timothy recognized that Paul’s training would only be effective if he was a willing learner.  

Some leaders are content to learn enough to get the job done, but they don’t have a hunger to learn more. They see learning as only a tool to accomplish a task or achieve a specific goal. But serving leaders see the priority of learning and begin a life-long pursuit of growth so that they can influence and serve more people. They recognize that their growth will also impact the growth of those around them.  And serving leaders know that unless they grow and develop themselves, they cannot effectively grow and develop others.

Timothy accepted the process of learning.

Timothy accepted the reality that his learning would be a process. It began by choosing the right people to learn from. “…because you know those from whom you learned it.”  Timothy watched Paul’s life carefully, but he also learned much from his mother and grandmother. (See 2 Timothy 1:5). Timothy recognized that the learning process would be continuous. “…continue in what you have learned…” Timothy was now a seasoned leader on his own. But he wanted to continue growing. He realized that this would be a lifelong process.

Some leaders try to take shortcuts in the learning process and only pursue more growth when they face an obstacle they can’t overcome. But serving leaders choose continued growth knowing that the price they pay is worth the effort.

Timothy acquired the product of learning.

As Paul observed Timothy’s life at this stage, he recognized that Timothy had acquired a deep conviction from his learning.  “…you…have become convinced…”  Timothy began his journey uncertain and inexperienced, but over time, as he learned and grew, he developed confidence. This confidence was not arrogance, but a settled conviction that he was ready and able to lead others. This confidence grew out of the continuous learning journey that he had pursued all his life.

Some leaders never acquire confidence in their gifting, calling and capacity and are unable to genuinely serve others. Without confidence they assert power and use their position for themselves. But serving leaders acquire confidence through a lifetime of learning and release power and authority to those they serve.

For further reflection and discussion:

  • How hungry am I to grow as a leader? Is my hunger increasing or diminishing over time? How does this impact my leadership capacity?
  • How can I develop a greater hunger to learn in my own life? What daily or weekly disciplines do I have that keep me growing? Who am I intentionally looking at as a person that helps me grow?
  • Reflect on those you lead. What can I do to encourage them to develop a hunger for learning?  Am I doing my part to make learning accessible and expected for them?      
  • In addition to the verses we used in this issue, consider the following verses from Timothy’s life: 1 Timothy 4:12, 15–16; 1 Timothy 6:20-21; and 2 Timothy 1:6, 13-14. What additional insights do you find from these verses about how Timothy was hungry to learn and grow?          
  • In this series we are looking at the life of Timothy. It’s a great time to read through the two books in the Bible with his name, written to him by Paul. As you read, reflect on what Timothy did to grow as a leader and how his actions apply to your own growth. 

Until next time, yours on the journey,

Jon Byler In the next issue, we’ll look at how Timothy paid the price of leadership.

Paul’s Leadership Pipeline: Love Them

#349, May 17, 2023

We have observed how Paul developed Timothy, one of the emerging leaders on his team. There were many deliberate acts of serving leadership that Paul took with Timothy and each is instructive. But in this final issue we’ll step back from some of the specific actions to the heart that shaped Paul’s actions: his love for those he served.

For this reason I have sent to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church (1 Corinthians 4:17, NIV).

Paul speaks of Timothy as “my son whom I love…” Love may seem like a ‘soft’ skill of leadership but love is powerful and was the foundation of all that Paul did. Paul’s love for Timothy began as he chose Timothy and was expressed in all he did to develop him. Because he loved Timothy he showed him the way, empowered him, stretched him, released him, followed him and encouraged him. Serving leaders learn from Paul what is required to have a heart of love for those they serve.

Loving other leaders requires selflessness.

Paul talks about Timothy in a way that elevates him in the eyes of those who read his message. Timothy “my son…who is faithful…he will remind you…” Paul was focused on Timothy, not on himself. He was sending Timothy to represent him on a critical mission. This selflessness is at the heart of serving leadership. Some leaders can’t get past themselves and all they say and do is directed towards making themselves look good. But serving leaders focus on those they serve. They use their leadership influence to build others up and to affirm and bless gifts in the emerging leader.  Serving leaders recognize that leadership is not all about them, it’s about those they serve. Serving leaders love because they are selfless.

Loving other leaders requires surrender.

Paul was willing to surrender some of his own power and authority as he sent this letter through Timothy to the church in Corinth. “I have sent to you Timothy…” Paul delegated his authority to this young leader and trusted him to serve well. It was a risk that placed Paul in a very vulnerable position, but he loved Timothy enough to release power to him. Some leaders are afraid to release control. But serving leaders surrender power and authority to see others raised up. Serving leaders love through surrender.

Loving other leaders requires security.  

Paul was able to love Timothy from a place of deep security in his own leadership. He was not threatened by Timothy’s gifts or abilities. He was secure enough to allow Timothy to represent him to the church. He was secure enough to elevate Timothy’s gifts and calling. Paul’s security was rooted in his “life in Christ Jesus.” His leadership was anchored in something much deeper than his role or gifting, it was in a relationship with Jesus. Some leaders fear that emerging leaders will become better than they are. They see the gifts of others as a threat to themselves. But serving leaders know who they are, they are secure in their gifts and callings. From that place of security they can bless and affirm the gifts of others, even when the emerging leader is better than they are. Serving leaders understand that focusing on others does not diminish who they. Instead serving leaders are secure enough to release and empower others. Serving leaders love because they are secure.

Serving leaders do many things to develop those around them. But at the heart of it all is a love for those they serve.

For further reflection and discussion:

  • On a scale of 1 to 10 how much is my own leadership shaped by love? What is the impact that has on my leadership?
  • Is my leadership primarily focused on myself or on those I lead? What actions in the past week demonstrate this? What one step can I take this week to improve? 
  • How easily do I release control to others? What example can I give in my leadership of my willingness (or lack of willingness) to surrender power and authority to others? Where do I need to take more risks on releasing those I serve?
  • Do my leadership actions flow out of a place of personal security, or do they reflect my own insecurities? What can I do this week to anchor my leadership on a deeper foundation?

Until next time, yours on the journey,

Jon Byler

Special Offer: If you would like all the issues from Paul’s Leadership Pipeline in a PDF format, click here to download.

In the next issue, we’ll begin a series looking at the life of Timothy, the other side of Paul’s Leadership Pipeline.