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

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