Updated: Apr 30, 2022
The Apostle Paul had a unique way of developing the leaders around him. Here are three key takeaways from Paul's model of leadership development.
1. Paul worked hard to replace himself
Earlier in 2 Timothy Paul thanks God for Timothy's mother and grandmother. But there's no mention of his father. We know from Acts that his dad is a Greek. He's not a believer. So he hadn't poured anything into him. Paul takes Timothy and pours into him (2 Timothy 4:6). Paul was realistic enough to know that he wouldn't last forever in his role, so he set someone else up for success at his departure.
Here's the truth that succession planning really addresses:
You can either build leaders or buy leaders.
Author Hanz Finzel suggests that leaders create their own leadership “constellation” that includes upward mentoring, downward mentoring, internal peer mentoring, and external peer mentoring. Paul set himself up as all four: upward (council at Jerusalem), downward (Timothy, Titus), internal peer mentoring (Peter), and external peer mentoring (leaders in various churches in diaspora). We would all do well to do the same.
2. Paul chose his battles wisely
Paul says he fought the "good" fight (2 Timothy 4:7), which supposes that there are bad fights. He decided which hills he wanted to die on and which ones he didn't.
Truthfully, we only have one hill we need to die on. That's the hill Jesus himself died on. The gospel hill of Calvary.
Here's a question we should ask ourselves when we find ourselves in a fight with others around us: What am I fighting for? Is this a gospel hill? Does me fighting exhibit the fruit of the Spirit or no?
3. Paul finished his race
We all know the phrase, it's a marathon, not a sprint. Describes ministry perfectly, doesn't it?
Marathon is actually based on a Greek myth. This myth has Pheidippides running from Marathon to Athens after the Battle of Marathon to announce the Greek victory with the word "nenikēkamen!" (Attic: νενικήκαμεν; we've won!). After he said those words, he promptly died of exhaustion.
It might be a myth, but it does carry a significant truth:
He was carrying a message so important, he didn't stop running until he delivered it.
We carry a message too. But I got news for you. The message you carry is meant to outlast you. And that’s okay. The gospel outlasted many faithful men and women. But for many of those men and women, that same gospel was PASSED to someone else.
I loved watching the sprint relays. The baton pass is crucial in those races. And that's what Paul did in his life. Passed the Gospel baton. If the Olympics, and Paul's life, teaches us anything, it's that the baton you carry is just as important as the direction you're running in.
Leaders can sometimes get so bogged down in the details of the work they do that they forget to glance over to make sure the object of our affection, that gospel baton is being carried in the race they are running.
Replace yourself. Choose your battles wisely. Finish your race. That's how Paul developed leaders. And that's how you should approach your own mentorship with other leaders around you.
Question: How are you working on developing leaders now?