As leaders we have a responsibility of both a heritage and an inheritance for the sake of those we lead. Leadership is not simply a skill learned and then a task we do to simply perform some role of ministry. I believe that leadership is more like taking your spot in a relay race. A leader receives the baton given them from those who have run the race thus far. Paul told Timothy to hold fast in presenting a pattern of sound words that he had received from Paul. He was to embrace those things with the faith and love given to his own life through Christ Jesus.
2 Timothy 1:13-14 Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. That good thing which was committed to you, keep by the Holy Spirit who dwells in us.
The role of leadership is one of being responsible for what has been given to you through the heritage of leaders before and the substance of the Holy Spirit, Who was the author in the lives of those who led before and the author of the role of leadership in the present. A leader must depend upon and seek to be intimate with the Holy Spirit in keeping to the task given to them by God in Christ. Paul commended Timothy for his faithfulness to these things and gave examples of others who had abandoned the responsibility given to them by God. When Paul named those who had failed, he was not attempting to pass a judgment upon them, but to warn, protect, and guide others to stay fast in the call of God in their lives.
2 Timothy1:15 This you know, that all those in Asia have turned away from me, among whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes.
Authority represents authority and when a leader rejects those who have been sent to them as spiritual fathers they themselves become spiritual renegades. They can hardly set an example of the faith to others since faith includes faithfulness to those that God sends and to the task that God sends them to do. I believe that the number one mark of authority is endurance. It is not just endurance for the sake of enduring, but endurance in all that God has given them to do. It is endurance in love, hope, and faith for the sake of the community of God that they have been joined to.
Paul was redemptive in his attitude towards those who had disconnected from him and were caught up in some deception of life. Paul also commended the faithful, for the sake of others who would follow in the example of the same. He understood that those who served him in love were also examples of the love of Christ for others to follow in life. Oneesiphorus was such a man, who perhaps was caught up in some of the same desception as Phygellus and Hermogenes.
2 Timothy 1:16-18 The Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain; but when he arrived in Rome, he sought me out very zealously and found me. The Lord grant to him that he may find mercy from the Lord in that Day—and you know very well how many ways he ministered to me at Ephesus.
Paul’s prayer was that the Lord would grant Onesiphorus mercy, surely implying that he needed mercy for challenges that perhaps came to him through the lives of Phygellus and Hermogenes or maybe even some error in his own life. It appears that shaking in the present moment didn’t negate Paul’s recognition of this man’s love for him. Whatever the situation was, Paul was stirred in his love for him. Leaders must know that even in the difficult times of betrayal, abandonment, or some opposition inspired by deception, that an attitude of love and the substance of love was to be in the heart of those who lead. Love is the true substance of leadership and it is the bond of any expression of the community of God.
Paul presented to Timothy that many had turned away from him, but Timothy was to be strong in the grace that is Christ Jesus. Leaders cannot allow the wounding in their hears caused by others to affect their attitude towards them or towards anyone as they continue in their responsibility of leading in the community of God. No matter what human conflicts a leader faces, they must never allow the actions of others to affect their attitude and willingness to give life to others. This is a supernatural testimony of the work of God’s grace in the human heart. Enduring the challenges of others and continuing strong in the grace of Christ is a part of leadership. This is more important than the tasks of ministry. It is about maintaining the character of Christ in all things.
2 Timothy 2:1 You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
Leaders must not just lead tasks of ministry. They must lead people. They must seek to multiply the life given to them by God in the lives of others. Discipleship is not about teaching others what to do in life. It is about increasing the inheritance of life given by God in the generations that follow. The increase of God’s government and peace is a grace to be multiplied in the generations of the family of God. There should always be a multigenerational focus. God is the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Israel. God is the God of Paul, Timothy, faithful men, and others also. This is what I call a one hundred year plan.
2 Timothy 2:2 And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.
Every leader should seek to live in this standard of inheritance in the community of Christ. Timothy was to take the things he had heard from Paul and to commit them to faithful men who would be able to teach others also.
Food For Thought,
Ted J. Hanson