February 8, 2023
We have observed how Paul chose and prepared Timothy, one of the emerging leaders on his team. As Paul invited Timothy to join him on a leadership journey, he was beginning a deliberate process of showing Timothy how to lead. They would walk together, work together, talk together and share life together. By his example, Paul would show Timothy what leadership looked like. Many years later, near the end of his life, Paul wrote these words to Timothy confirming that he had accomplished this task:
You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, sufferings (2 Timothy 3:10-11a, NIV).
After many years Paul was able to say to Timothy that he had shown him these nine elements of his life. Paul’s life was an open book for Timothy. He demonstrated the good and the painful parts of leadership. He is able to tell Timothy that he knew everything about him as a leader. Serving leaders learn from Paul’s example the importance of showing those they lead the ups and downs of the leadership journey.
Serving leaders show the way.
Some elements of leadership require instruction and Paul spoke about “my teaching.” But Paul went beyond instruction to demonstration. He showed Timothy his “way of life.” By his example he showed Timothy the way to plant churches in new locations, the way to lead in crisis situations, the way to deal with adversities, the way to raise up other leaders, etc. Paul understood that more leadership ability is caught than taught. Some leaders tell others what to do without demonstrating how to do it. But serving leaders show others; they model the way. This does not mean that a serving leader needs to do every task, but they are willing to roll up their sleeves and show the team the way it is done. They recognize that developing other leaders requires showing them how it is done.
Serving leaders show the purpose.
Paul’s modeling to Timothy included not only his external actions, but his purpose. He was able to tell Timothy that he knew “my purpose.” Paul’s purpose was the ‘why’ behind the ‘what.’ Timothy undoubtedly heard over and over the story of Paul’s conversion, of God’s call on his life and his passion to reach the Gentile world. Timothy helped Paul write Colossians where Paul says his purpose is to “present everyone fully mature in Christ” (Colossians 1:28). Paul made it clear to Timothy why they were doing what they were doing. Some leaders only demonstrate how a task should be done. But serving leaders explain the purpose of that task and tie all leadership actions to the purpose or mission of the organization.
Serving leaders show the cost.
Paul not only showed Timothy the positive elements of leadership, but he also revealed the cost of leadership as he showed Timothy that leadership involved “endurance”, “persecutions”, and “sufferings.” Timothy personally witnessed the price Paul paid for his leadership and he likely experienced a time in prison as well. (See Hebrews 13:23). Some leaders call others by revealing the benefits of a role or position without disclosing the costs. But serving leaders learn the importance of showing those they led the ups and downs of the leadership journey from Paul’s example. By showing the cost they prepare the emerging leaders to have the fortitude to finish the journey.
For further reflection and discussion:
- Are there areas that I tell others what to do but have not shown them how to do it? Does my leadership balance my teaching and showing? Would those who follow me say they know about my “way of life” or do I hide elements of who I am from those I lead?
- Is the purpose of the organization I lead clear to all who follow? Do I clearly tie the purpose of my organization to every leadership action I request others to do? In what way can I improve in this area?
- Do I make the cost of leadership clear to those I am developing as leaders or do I tend to hide my own pain and struggles? How can I be appropriately honest about what leadership costs?
Until next time, yours on the journey,
In the next issue, we’ll examine how Paul developed his leadership pipeline by empowering them.