Inside and Out
God, Yours is the earth in all its fullness, and Yours is my life, with all its complications.
2 Timothy 2:14-26
Consider: If you listen to people's questions and treat them respectfully, they will be more willing to hear what you have to say.
Leadership involves a complex mix of skills and character. As Paul equips Timothy for his role, he emphasizes both. Timothy must be trusted as someone who can handle the truth, who explains it clearly and can discern the real from the counterfeit. Of equal importance is the attention he pays to his inner life. If he is to carry out the responsibilities of leadership in a way that will bless God's people, he must take care of himself as well as the people under his care.
Leadership is relatively easy when all is going well, when everybody is on board and there is no challenge to the leadership. The test comes when there are disagreements, factions, and undermining of the vision. At that point, character as much as understanding of the truth is called into play. Sadly, the church has too often mimicked the world in responding to such leadership challenges by hiding behind position and power rather than displaying the patience and purity that Paul prescribes for Timothy. The hallmarks of Timothy's leadership are to be patient reiterating of the truth (reminding without becoming exasperated) and gentleness and kindness in correcting wrong thinking, in the belief that there is always the possibility that people can change. Behind this leadership must be someone who is making the decision to be pure, taking direct action to "flee" from temptations (22).
Timothy must have backbone, standing firm in a refusal to engage in unproductive talk. How many hours would we have saved if we had adopted that approach? Of course, we must never use Paul's instruction as an excuse simply to close down criticism. Rather, we undercut all attempts to speculate or contradict God's truth, refusing to engage in such a fruitless exercise.
Apply: If you are a leader, reflect on your leadership decisions in the light of this passage. What do you need to work on?
Lord, I know that sometimes I love to talk more than to listen. I know my talking can silence conversation and stifle healthy dialogue. Put a guard on my lips!