By Katie Pearson
“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope .” 1 Timothy 1:1
Before we begin any study of God’s Word, it’s important to understand a little bit about authorship and intention. Paul wrote 1 and 2 Timothy to his younger counterpart Timothy, whom he mentored and appointed over the emerging church in Macedonia and Asia Minor. Combined with Titus, these letters are called the Pastoral Epistles because they focus on the pastoral care of churches and the qualifications of ministers.
Who gave Paul the spiritual authority to write about godly leadership? The Lord himself. Even though Paul was a blasphemer and persecutor, Jesus chose Paul to take the Gospel to the Gentiles.
According to the world’s definition of a leader, Paul is the last person we might expect to have such prominence. He lacked reputation, respect, a glowing resume, and referrals. But in God’s kingdom, what we know and understand to be true is often inverted. Nowhere is this inversion more apparent than in how the Bible portrays leadership.
What qualifies a godly leader? Certainly not age, talent, or connections. Timothy was young and inexperienced, and his father was an unbelieving Greek. But God chose Timothy and directed Paul to mentor him. Paul’s background would remind him that God equips those whom he calls. With human and spiritual input, Timothy could become an exemplary soldier and godly leader.
God defines his chosen leaders based on their hearts. “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5). God gives natural gifts, and he alone can supply the supernatural power to attract, develop and send young (in terms of age or maturity) leaders into the world. God uses those who trust Jesus as Savior and place their hope in him over worldly ambition and approval.
Paul, Timothy, and many other biblical examples emulate a leadership style based on servanthood. True “servant leaders” imitate Jesus in prioritizing loving others above their own preference or agenda. Rather than seeking applause, financial gain, or security, God’s leaders strive to do his will whatever the cost. Servant leadership is a lifestyle that sounds relatively simple. And as Jesus models it, servant leadership is simple—but it is never easy. However, it is the greatest privilege we have on earth. When done courageously and authentically, it empowers others in Christ to become followers who lead with God’s love in their own circles.
Reflection: Do you feel called to lead? Perhaps you already are in a position of influence but feel unqualified for what you lack. Or you live in fear that others will find out about your past, whether sins of commission (what you did that you regret) or omission (what you didn’t do that you should have). One of the most critical and ongoing practices a leader must cling to is confession. If your “not enoughs” overrule your courage to step out in faith wherever Jesus leads you, then your biggest struggle is pride—because you are overly focused on your limitations and not nearly focused enough on God. We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Follow the ancient way of the Psalms and find the life God has for you. A model for vibrant worship, the Psalms provide practical wisdom to traverse the circuitous path of life with trust and hope. Pilgrim’s Path: A Study of the Psalms traces our spiritual walk with God—from discovery and delight, through doubt and disappointment, into joyful confidence. Whether used for individual or group study, Pilgrim’s Path is for everyone who seeks to know and love God more and find life in him.
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