By: Eddie McFalls
Reflections on Chapter 20 of Spiritual Leadership by Oswald Sanders.
The Apostle Paul is known for a variety of attributes. His command of the ancient laws and rites of Judaism still astounds today. The zeal with which he worked, both before and after his conversion, is legendary. We can note several instances where he was used of The Holy Spirit in miraculous fashion. There is more than ample evidence of a keen comprehension of Roman law and how one might leverage those laws in a manner that was proper and benefit God’s Kingdom. In his preaching and writing we find copious references to the Torah, yet there are quotations from secular literature current to his time that suggest he was “well read.”
There is yet another genius to the life and ministry of Paul. He was a servant who learned to reproduce leaders. The two letters to Timothy reveal Paul had previously worked extensively with the young man. Moreover, we see that Paul was still actively involved in shaping the ministry of Timothy. There is another epistle that stands out in this subject matter, Titus. These two men were products of Paul ministering under the direction of The Spirit.
I am probably on a slippery slope, but I wonder if we should not just view the guidelines Paul lays out for leadership as rigid qualifications. I do believe they are holy, pure and divinely inspired. But my pondering has caused me to question why don’t we focus on teaching these concepts of purity and upstanding character to our youth with more diligence? Are we rearing them to see the value of these points Paul enumerates? It often seems we work at this backwards; and find ourselves in intricate, intense discussions (yes, you can read arguments) regarding if an individual should be disqualified from a particular role. I am not losing focus that sometimes those reared in God’s house fail and that Christ can redeem a stained life; neither am I forgetting that many come to Christ with a history of brokenness. What concerns me is this; are we using the rules to squelch those who yearn to serve in some capacity and banish them from being productive in The Kingdom? Or, are we lifting up the fine points as lofty goals to strive for? Quite possibly it is two divergent streams of thought that I am simply mixing together to my own muddling.
One can assume that Paul was constantly learning methods on “Reproducing Leaders”. I’m basing this on some rather scant evidence found in Acts and 2 Timothy. John Mark was apparently a young man when he accompanied Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey. Before the venture was over John Mark returned home. Later as the second journey of Paul was being organized, he and Barnabas had a strong disagreement concerning allowing John Mark to participate. This led to them forming two different ministry teams and going to different fields. (Acts 15:38-41) Still later we read a single line written to Timothy, “Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is helpful to me in the ministry.” (2 Timothy 4:11) Obviously, there are factors that are obscure to us. Was it the patient tutelage of Barnabas that lifted Mark to this “helpful” plane? Was it Paul growing in wisdom to see more clearly the type of value Mark brought to the equation? Was it a combination? One can only speculate. The end result is that a faltering youngster was given opportunity to grow and become “helpful”.
Maybe it is simply another assurance that “Reproducing Leaders” is not a “cut and dried”, text book, by the letter of the law undertaking. We are unique, those we are shaping are unique. It should go without saying that we must lean on the One who knows all to be successful in this indispensable task.
Jesus did it with The Twelve. Paul did it with Timothy, Titus, Mark and others. Every wise leader has attempted to follow the pattern. The commission of “Reproducing Leaders” is to us as well.