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.

#348 Paul’s Leadership Pipeline: Encourage Them

April 19, 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.

#347 Paul’s Leadership Pipeline: Follow Them

April 5, 2023

Serving leaders empower others and are thrilled to see people developing and released, but they are not blind to the need for accountability. As Paul worked with Timothy and others in his leadership pipeline, he released them, but he also followed them to ensure that they were moving in the right direction. In the initial stages of his development Timothy followed Paul, living and working together. But then Paul released Timothy to pastor the church at Ephesus. Timothy was now leading on his own but Paul didn’t leave him alone. Paul followed him, writing letters to Timothy that provided appropriate accountability and guidance.   

15 Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. 16 Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers (1 Timothy 4:15-16, NIV).

Timothy at this point was on his own, but he was not alone. Paul was continuing to mentor and guide him on his leadership journey. And it was effective! Paul later declared:

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 2:22, NIV).

Serving leaders learn the benefits of following those they empower from Paul’s example.

Following leaders provides accountability.

Paul acknowledged that Timothy had “proved himself.” This implies that there was a time of testing and evaluation of this leadership capacity as he developed under Paul’s guidance. Paul released Timothy to lead on his own but made it clear that he was still accountable to him for his work.

Some leaders release those under them with little or no accountability. Others delegate responsibilities but micromanage what the emerging leader is doing. Serving leaders successfully manage the delicate balance between empowerment and accountability. They release, but don’t abandon, the emerging leader.  They follow by establishing accountability that is appropriate for the leadership level of the one that they release.

Following leaders produces accelerated growth.   

Appropriately following an emerging leader actually accelerates their growth! The mentor is able to share life experience and wisdom in ways that help the younger leader to move forward more quickly on their own leadership journey. Timothy could have learned some things on his own through trial and error. But Paul followed Timothy to accelerate that growth. He expected everyone to see Timothy’s “progress.” Some leaders release others and expect them to learn on their own. Serving leaders follow those they are developing to accelerate their growth.  

Following leaders produces higher quality leaders.

The result of Paul’s continued mentorship in Timothy’s life –was “that Timothy has proved himself.” Paul’s leadership pipeline produced a proven leader who had journeyed with Paul as a son. Timothy was a high-quality leader as a result. Some leaders release others to be on their own and hope for the best. Serving leaders continue to serve those they are developing by following up with them to ensure quality results.

For further reflection and discussion:

  • Do I have an older leader or mentor who follows me to see how I am doing in my leadership journey? If so, what can I do to show appreciation to them today for what they have invested in my life? If not, who is someone I can ask to hold me accountable for my own leadership development and when will I talk to them about this?
  • For those leaders that I am developing, is my tendency to release without accountability or to micromanage? What do I need to change to find the right balance?      
  • Have I had conversations about levels of accountability with those I release to do different tasks or assignments?  Am I adjusting the level of accountability expected as leaders under me grow and develop?
  • What do I do to demonstrate to those I lead that while they are on their own, they are not alone?
  • What quality of leaders are developing under my guidance? What can I learn from Paul to produce higher quality leaders?  

Until next time, yours on the journey,

Jon Byler

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

#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.  

344 Paul’s Leadership Pipeline: Empower Them 

February 22, 2023  

Paul carefully chose those who would follow him, he deliberately prepared them for their assignment, and he used his own life and leadership to show them how to lead. All those steps laid a foundation for Paul to begin developing the leadership capacity of Timothy and others on his team. Paul then empowered Timothy and others to develop their own leadership capacity. Consider these words written near the end of Pauls’ life and after a 20-year relationship with Timothy.  

1In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: 2 Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke, and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 5 But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry (2 Timothy 4:1-2, 5, NIV).  

Paul empowered Timothy to perform many leadership tasks. And under his leadership Timothy developed into a church leader, troubleshooter, and co-author of six of the letters that became scripture (see note*). Paul’s example demonstrates that serving leaders share power, they are in power to empower others. The results speak for themselves.  

Empowering leaders multiplies proficiency. 

Paul challenges Timothy to “preach, correct, rebuke…” He had modeled these tasks to Timothy, and he empowered Timothy to do the same. Paul was not only interested in having someone help him carry out his mission; he wanted Timothy to grow. For growth to happen, Timothy needed some space to spread his own wings, exercise his own leadership and make his own mistakes. Paul was not threatened by Timothy’s growth as a leader. He intended for Timothy to grow and become skillful in his work.  

Some leaders want to be the only ones who can do a task. They feel threatened to think that someone else may do it as well or better than they can. But serving leaders want to see everyone empowered to skillfully use their strengths.  

Empowering leaders multiplies people.  

Because Paul empowered his team, they were able to multiply. Near the beginning of Paul’s missionary journey, he was able to go on to Athens, leaving Silas and Timothy behind in Berea and Thessalonica. Just before he wrote these words Paul instructed Timothy to pass on to others what had been learned from him (see 2 Timothy 2:2). By empowering Timothy, Paul impacted multiple generations of leaders.  

Some leaders seek to expand their team by adding people to do a task. Serving leaders seek to expand their people by empowering them. As they do this, they multiply people.  

Empowering leaders multiplies power.  

When Paul wrote these words Timothy was in Ephesus, leading the church that Paul had planted there. Paul recognized that giving power away did not diminish his own power but multiplied it. By empowering Timothy and others Paul multiplied his influence.  

Some leaders believe that giving others power will reduce their own, so they hold tightly to their power and authority. Serving leaders realize that as they empower others, power is multiplied.  

For further reflection and discussion: 

  • Who on my team am I strategically empowering to grow as a leader? How does the example of Paul challenge me to multiply those who can do what I am doing?  
  • What task am I currently doing that someone else on my team could and should do? What steps will I take to empower that person and when will I do it?  
  • Have I empowered leaders around me long enough to see a second-generation impact where they begin to empower others? If so, how can I strengthen this multiplication? If not, what can I do this year to move in this direction?        

Until next time, yours on the journey, 

Jon Byler 

* Timothy’s name appears as the co-author on 2 Corinthians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, and Philemon. 

In the next issue, we will look at how Paul developed his leadership pipeline by stretching them.  

#343 Paul’s Leadership Pipeline: Show Them

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, 

Jon Byler 

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

#342 Paul’s Leadership Pipeline: Prepare Them

January 25, 2023

Paul chose Timothy to be a traveling companion and future leader. But even before they left Lystra Paul recognized that some preparation needed to be done before Timothy was ready to travel with the team.  

 Paul wanted to take him along on the journey, so he circumcised him because of the Jews who lived in that area, for they all knew that his father was a Greek (Acts 16:3, NIV).  

Most modern leaders don’t consider circumcision as a part of their leadership development program! But we can learn much from Paul’s example about how serving leaders prepare those chosen to be on their team.  

Serving leaders prepare others by exposing the cost.  

Timothy certainly experienced physical pain in the act of circumcision and at one level that accomplished Paul’s objective. But at a deeper level, Paul was teaching Timothy that leadership involves pain and sacrifice. Before Timothy took the first step on the journey, he needed to count the cost and Paul wanted to make sure Timothy had some “skin in the game.” He was also checking Timothy’s motives. Did Timothy just want an adventure and the trip of a lifetime? Or was he ready to pay the price of leadership? Perhaps Paul had learned a painful lesson from his experience with another young leader, Mark, who went on the first journey. Mark turned back when things got tough. (See Acts 13:5, 13; 15:36-41) In any case, Paul ensured that Timothy understood that leadership is a journey that carries a cost.

Some leaders try to encourage emerging leaders to step into leadership by focusing on the perks of leadership and emphasize the rewards. But serving leaders put the pain on the line and realize that if the new leader won’t cross the threshold, they are not ready for leadership.  They might assign a difficult task to see whether the emerging leader rises to the challenge with a good attitude. Serving leaders prepare others by exposing the cost.

Serving leaders prepare others by eliminating obstacles.

  If Paul allowed Timothy, a Jew, to be uncircumcised, it would be offensive to all Jews. While Paul adamantly argued that Gentiles did not need to be circumcised, he did not want Timothy’s ability to influence others to be hindered. So, he eliminated that obstacle for Timothy who was likely oblivious to how critical it was. Some leaders ignore obstacles or expect the young leader to learn how to overcome by themselves. But serving leaders look for ways to remove obstacles. While pain is important to confirm motives, serving leaders seek to eliminate any obstacles that will hinder the effective work of the emerging leader. 

Serving leaders prepare others by equipping for success.  

By requiring Timothy to be circumcised Paul was equipping him for success as a leader. If Timothy would not have been circumcised he would have been unable to enter the synagogues where Paul always went first in his strategic church planting efforts. And he would not have been able later to effectively lead churches with Jewish believers. So, with circumcision, Paul equipped Timothy to succeed.

Some leaders focus on their own success and see their team as a means to help. But serving leaders focus on what their team needs and equips them to succeed. Serving leaders measure their success by the success of others.

For further reflection and discussion:

  • Think of a person you are considering as a potential team member, or a current member you are considering for a higher responsibility. What actions can you take to help them count the cost of that change?
  • Paul used pain to expose the cost of leadership. But he also removed obstacles for Timothy. How do you decide when it is helpful to allow some pain and when an obstacle needs to be removed for those you serve?
  • Identify one younger leader on your team. What is an obstacle they face and how can you remove it for them?
  • In what ways are you setting your team up for success? What additional actions can you take to ensure that they will be successful?                   

Until next time, yours on the journey,

Jon Byler In the next issue, we’ll examine how Paul loved those in his leadership pipeline.

Paul’s Leadership Pipeline: Choose them

January 11, 2023

Do you ever wonder what will happen to your work after you are gone? All leaders grapple with this question and either answer with intentionality or ignore it to their peril. In this series we’ll look at the Apostle Paul’s answer to this question and the way he developed a leadership pipeline to ensure that his work would continue after he was gone.

Perhaps more than any other single person, Paul’s masterful leadership led to the rapid expansion of the Christian faith throughout the Roman world. He didn’t work alone; he developed a leadership pipeline that multiplied his impact. One of the best known of these is Timothy, the leader that was ultimately left in charge of the church Paul planted in Ephesus. In this series we’ll examine how Paul developed Timothy and learn how all serving leaders can develop a leadership pipeline.  First, we’ll look at how Paul chose Timothy and what we can learn from his methods.  

 1Paul came to Derbe and then to Lystra, where a disciple named Timothy lived, whose mother was Jewish and a believer but whose father was a Greek. The believers at Lystra and Iconium spoke well of him. Paul wanted to take him along on the journey, so he circumcised him because of the Jews who lived in that area, for they all knew that his father was a Greek (Acts 16:1-3, NIV).

Choosing leaders requires open eyes

Paul came to Derbe and then to Lystra, where a disciple named Timothy lived. Paul knew that the continuation of his work would require others, so he was looking for people that could join him on his journey. His eyes were open and as he observed the disciples in Lystra he saw Timothy. Some leaders focus only on their own vision and don’t think strategically about what will happen after they are gone. They fail to see what others can contribute. But serving leaders recognize that since their work brings great value to the world, they need God’s help to find others who will build on their foundation and carry out their great purpose.

Choosing leaders requires a commitment to partnership  

Paul saw Timothy and “wanted to take him along on the journey.”  He had a desire, not simply to have an extra worker on the team, but he was looking for a partner on the journey. Paul was committed to a partnership that would equip Timothy to grow and develop his own leadership capacity. He recognized that developing leaders was something that would require significant investments of time, training, and teaching before the results would begin to multiply. Some leaders seek people to help but are not taking them along on the journey. They simply want people that will help them accomplish their vision. Serving leaders choose others to be partners with them on the journey and are ready to invest deeply in that person.

Choosing leaders requires careful evaluation

The believers at Lystra and Iconium spoke well of him [Timothy]. Paul was careful to evaluate Timothy before calling him to join the team. He had likely heard about Timothy before he arrived in Derbe and perhaps had even met him on the previous visit with Barnabas (see Acts 14:6-23). On that visit he had established a church where Timothy’s mother and grandmother became a part. In any case, he listened carefully to what others, who knew Timothy better, said about him. He evaluated his reputation with others and also considered the advantages and disadvantages of his heritage. Some leaders call others because they are available but serving leaders use prayerful evaluation before asking others to join their team.  Then they are ready to build their leadership pipeline by choosing a leader to join.

For further reflection and discussion:

  • Are my eyes continually open to see potential leaders around me? What impact does this have on what will happen to my work after I am gone?
  • Do I approach my leadership with the perspective that Paul had, desiring to take others along on the journey? Or do I see my leadership as my own journey? How does this impact the way I see others around me?    
  • What is my process for evaluating those I call to join my team? In what ways can this be strengthened? Do I listen well enough to what others say about the person I am considering?       

Until next time, yours on the journey,

Jon Byler In the next issue, we’ll look at how Paul prepared the leaders he chose.