By Katie Pearson
“Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound! Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.” 2 Timothy 2:8-10
Paul wrote 2 Timothy from a prison cell near the end of his life. Yet, despite great suffering, he still passionately and joyfully proclaimed the good news of Jesus Christ as his highest calling. In this intensely personal letter to his spiritual son, Timothy, there is no hint of Paul’s regret for the ongoing persecution he has endured, only faith and love. What greater testimony to the Gospel is there than a saint willing to sacrifice everything to share it with the world?
What I find most inspiring about this passage is that it’s not about Paul. While honest about his circumstances, he isn’t seeking sympathy or asking to be celebrated. Rather, he is using his situation to point to Jesus and celebrate the living God who gave him the opportunity to die for the truth once again. While he has sacrificed enormously, he continues to embody peace and joy. What an inspiring example of what it means to die to self and live for Christ.
Have you ever sought attention or sympathy for the sacrifices you have made as a servant leader? I know I have. I’ve complained to my family about unpredictable hours and people who refuse to respect boundaries. I’ve also lamented about making less money, handling unnecessary conflict, and receiving critical emails. While it’s appropriate to get support at times, it’s inexcusable to use hardships to draw attention to ourselves rather than point to Jesus. Yes, we are human, but we are called to become like Christ. Our spiritual growth is accelerated when the going gets tough—if we choose to lean in.
How do we cultivate this mindset? We must return regularly to the Gospel of grace. If we forget that we did absolutely nothing to deserve the gift of salvation and eternal life, much less our leadership positions, we will naturally return to exalting ourselves above the Lord. We make ourselves the ultimate reference point through bragging, complaining, or both. Pride comes in a lot of forms, and martyrdom is one of the ugliest.
Leadership is rarely neutral territory, but you are never without the cross to remind you why you serve and who your life glorifies. When we are pressed, our godly example has far greater kingdom influence.
Reflection: Are you making yourself the center of your struggles? Who or what defines you. We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Prayer of Response: Gracious God, I ask your forgiveness for continuously making myself the reference point in my work and hardships. It’s not about me, and it never was. Please give me holy courage and confidence to trust you when the going gets tough, and I would rather quit or play the martyr. Instead, I pray that you would give me the mind of Christ to see all suffering as an opportunity to glorify your name. Thank you. Amen.
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