9. The Godly Leader: 1&2 Timothy
The strongest sign of authenticity as a leader is the inadequacy we feel most of the time.
Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of me His prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity.
-2 Timothy 1:8-9
We might covet leadership for its status and perks, but are we willing to take on the challenges that come with good leadership? 1 & 2 Timothy unpack what godly leadership looks like, and we learn that it is anything but easy.
The Apostle Paul is suffering within a Roman prison for his work spreading the Gospel when he writes to his mentee, Timothy. He urges Timothy to accept his calling as a leader within the Christian church, and he guides Timothy in how to lead. According to Paul, a leader must be willing to sacrifice and endure for the sake of their calling. Following in Christ’s footsteps, faithfulness often comes at a cost, as Paul knows very well.
Paul asks Timothy to confront the corrupt leaders in the church he was overseeing in the city of Ephesus. In his instruction, Paul effectively teaches Timothy what a good leader should look like:
First, a faithful leader refuses to compromise on the Word of God. Some of the current leaders of Timothy’s church were stirring up buzz with their divisive speculations on Scripture. Other leaders were distorting and watering down biblical truths. Paul encourages Timothy to stand firm on the core teachings of Scripture: that we are sinful; that Jesus died and resurrected to save us; and that he will one day return to completely resurrect and renew his creation.
Second, a faithful leader possesses healthy personal relationships. Paul explains that when one nurtures and loves their family well, this will bleed over into their relationships with the body of Christ. A good leader never neglects his family for the cause of his ministry.
Third, a faithful leader lives a generous life. Timothy is instructed to confront the greedy Ephesian church leaders who used their ministry for their own enrichment. Paul encourages Timothy to live a content and simple life, submitting his resources to Jesus by generously giving to and caring for those in need.
Fourth, a faithful leader lives by example. Paul exhorts Timothy, “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity (1 Timothy 4:12).” A good leader does the hard work of putting their own teaching into practice.
Faithful leadership is not an easy role to fill. It can be tempting to compromise on God’s Word when it makes us more popular. It can be easy to neglect our personal relationships to pour more energy into building our platform. It can feel enticing to use our leadership roles for personal gain. It can be alluring to turn a blind eye to our own issues and neglect to live out what we preach.
Given the high calling of leadership, where do we receive the power to lead faithfully? In our union to Christ.
In 2 Timothy 2:13-13, Paul writes,
“If we have died with him, we will also live with him;
if we endure, we will also reign with him;
if we deny him, he also will deny us;
if we are faithless, he remains faithful.”
Leading means sacrificing for others. No one modeled this better than Jesus, who gave his life for his followers! As we share in the sufferings of Christ, we can press on because we know we also share in the reward of Christ. In Christ we have eternal life, and we will reign with him for eternity. Because we are united to Christ, we also know he will be unconditionally faithful to us, despite our weaknesses.
Paul closes his letter showing how this power has equipped his own faithfulness. While many have abandoned Paul in his imprisonment, God has been closer than ever. Paul says in 2 Timothy 4:17, “But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed.”
To be a faithful leader - in your family, your social groups, your professional areas of influence - you don’t have to depend on our own power. Any feeling of inadequacy should lead you to depend on the power of God, who draws near and strengthens in our times of weakness.
RESPOND: Take a moment to ask God to strengthen you with his power to live as a godly leader within the spheres he has placed you.