Virtual Reality | Day 5
The Christian leader’s lifestyle is based upon an inner character of the heart, enabled by the Holy Spirit, that causes them to behave in certain ways. This temperament is part of ‘a settled habit of mind,’ an inner trait that drives our outward conduct. This settled habit is how the heart, mind, and hands meet to fuel the task of reproducing leaders to fulfil the purpose of Christ in the world.
Yesterday we ended by introducing four challenges Timothy would face in his leadership and that we face in ours. I’m labelling them as legalism, relativism, consumerism and authoritarianism. Before we dive into these four leadership temptations specifically, I want to take a second to lay the foundation. For Paul, leadership is not simply doing something, but doing something the right way for the right reasons. It’s not enough for a leader to do God’s will. We must also seek to do God’s will God’s way. How we do what we do matters.
From 2 Timothy 2:2 we can say that Paul’s emphasis is not so much that Timothy should love people enough to tell them the truth but that he should love people enough to show them the truth. Paul spent years telling people who Jesus was. In the latter stages of his life he had a unique opportunity to demonstrate the power of the sufferings of Christ through his own suffering:
This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day. (2 Timothy 1:9c-12)
The next two verses reveal what’s involved in proclaiming the truth of the Gospel and in what manner that is to be done:
What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us. (2 Timothy 1:13-14)
The word ‘pattern’ means sketch or outline. There’s some debate about what Paul means. The best interpretation appears to be that Timothy was required to be loyal to the message Paul had shared with him but was free to express that using his unique personality.
Romans 12:6 reminds us that Christian leadership is a gift from the Holy Spirit.
And since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let each exercise them.
Every leader has a unique leadership gifting. Peter was a leader by virtue of practical wisdom (Acts 4:8-12), John by virtue of his heart for God and his love of others (as seen in his writings), Paul by virtue of intellectual capacity (as seen in his sermons and epistles), and Timothy by virtue of his sacrificial service (Philippians 2:19-21). All these leaders shared all these qualities in varying degrees, but each of them had a distinct capacity that uniquely marked them.
When Paul says, “keep the pattern” he’s reminding Timothy that the young leader hadn’t received a fixed formula but a general outline of the critical teaching that needed to be maintained but exercised in his own unique way.
What applies to Timothy applies to us too. There isn’t a fixed, rigid formula for how we do our ministry. Every Christian leader is encouraged to follow the ‘general outline’ in their own unique way. We’ll understand more of what is involved in that as we proceed.
Paul is unequivocal that how Timothy guarded the gospel, however, was critically important. Timothy’s commitment to the gospel had to be characterized by both ‘faith’ and ‘love.’ In the words of Mounce,
Rigid orthodoxy is insufficient. … Just as Timothy is called to suffer for the gospel not on his own strength but by the power of God (v 8), so also this faith and love are not inherent qualities but rather supernatural gifts given to those who are “in Christ Jesus” (cf. 1 Tim 1:14; 3:13).”
Timothy was to guard the truth in faith and love. Faith and love are expressions that Timothy’s ‘settled habits of the mind’ simply had to produce for his ministry to be consistent with what he’d received from Paul.
Faith refers both to the act of believing and to the content of what is believed. Love refers to the way his leadership was expressed. Guarding what was entrusted to him is a dynamic relational endeavor which Timothy could only achieve, “with the help of the Holy Spirit” (2:14).
Since God enables and empowers the leaders He calls regardless of any natural ability or talent, leaders are called to follow Christ first and foremost. Christian leaders are not leaders as much as they are models of the perfect follower. They live life by showing others the way that Christ is heading.
Here’s what that means for us. Our effectiveness in leadership is driven more, in the first instance, by our willingness to follow God’s lead than it is in our ability to follow another leader’s plans. If we are willing to cultivate the virtues that produce the ‘settled habits of the mind’ we’ll not only experience joy and peace in our leadership journey but we’ll also be equipped to overcome these four leadership temptations: legalism, relativism, consumerism, and authoritarianism.
The Christian leader’s lifestyle is based upon an inner disposition of the heart, empowered by the Holy Spirit, that causes them to act in certain ways. As we said yesterday, this temperament differs from an impulse in that it is part of a settled habit of mind, an inner trait that drives our outward conduct. Such action causes us to supplement the challenge to ‘tell the truth’ (1:11) with the commitment to ‘show the truth’ (2:2) through who we are and who we are becoming. This process ensures that we do what we do in faith and love. While there’s no rigid formula for how we lead, the Christian way is the faithful and loving way.
Food for Thought:
1. Every leader has a unique leadership gifting. What’s yours?
Feel free to post your thoughts in the comments box below. I’ll do my best to answer any and all questions.
 W.D. Lawrence, Distinctives of Christian Leadership, Bibliotheca Sacra, (July-September 1987) p. 321
 So T.D. Lea & H.P. Griffin, 1, 2 Timothy, Titus (Vol. 34) Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers (1992), p. 195
 Mounce, W. D. (2000). Pastoral Epistles (Vol. 46, p. 489). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.