Formations 08.15.2021: Leadership

1 Timothy 4:6-16

What do you do when your church’s nominating committee calls? Maybe you’re thrilled to know that others have recognized your gifts and think you have something to offer. Or maybe you grimace at the thought of being saddled with something that you can only conceive of as a drudgerous chore.

To be honest, I don’t know your church or its culture, so I can’t tell you which response is more appropriate for you.

I do know, however, that leadership is a high calling and a great honor. And we should think of it as a natural phase of Christian growth. If we’re growing in our faith, there comes a point when we stop being (mainly) learners and followers and begin to be (more often) leaders and role models.

This point comes sooner in some than in others. In today’s passage, Paul’s warning “Let no one despise your youth” (v. 12) suggests that some may have seen Timothy as untested or inexperienced. He is likely a young adult, certainly younger than some in his congregation. Yet Paul has every confidence in Timothy.

Paul appointed Timothy to lead the troubled church in Ephesus, and in 1 Timothy 4 he exhorts his protégé to rise to the occasion. Young as he may be, now is his time to take the helm. He must teach sound doctrine, avoid “old wives’ tales,” train himself in godliness, and work hard with his hope set on God.

Churches need good leaders, and Paul takes pains to provide such leadership for the church in Ephesus.

What does it mean to be a leader? It doesn’t always mean you have a title or position. That kind of formal affirmation can be a useful tool for some ministry roles. But leadership usually comes down to being a pacesetter. Whom do people look to when something needs to be done? Whom do they listen to for discernment? Whose lifestyle and deportment make them worthy of imitation? It may not be someone with a title in front of their name, and that’s not a bad thing.

For whom do you serve as an example and role model?


• What do you look for in a Christian leader?
• How does Timothy exemplify good leadership in this passage? How does Paul?
• What can more seasoned Christians do to support the work of younger leaders? What should each group expect to receive from the other?
• What are the hallmarks of an effective young leader?

Darrell Pursiful is the editor of Formations. He is an adjunct professor at Mercer University and an active member of the First Baptist Church of Christ in Macon, Georgia.


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