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