The opening lines of the book of 2 Timothy show us two important foundations of Christ-centered leaders—they are called by God and formed by family. Listen to this episode to see how both of these effect your leadership some two thousand years after Paul first wrote to Timothy.
Episode length: 25 minutes
Main idea: A Christ-centered leader is called by God and formed by family.
Called by God
Paul viewed his suffering as an honor
Both Paul and Timothy, then, were called and set apart by God to lead
Formed by family
Paul served God with a clear conscience
Timothy was the result of a lineage of faith
Your faith was given to you so it could be given through you
The church is a family of faith
Were you called by God to lead?
Do you serve God with a clear conscience? When you think of how you live your life, spend your time, treat your family, or do your job, is there anything that comes to mind that would prevent you from saying that your conscience is clear?
Are you sure about your group’s faith in the same way? Do you know with sincerity if those in your group who profess to believe actually do? You can look at someone’s life, listen to their speech, and observe how they treat people and see if their faith is sincere. Do the people in your group who say they follow Jesus look anything like him?
Do you think of your group members and others you know at church like they’re your brothers and sisters, with all that implies?
We’re more distracted than ever, constantly feeling overwhelmed by the torrent of information that floods our eyes and ears each day. Arcade Fire’s newest album, Everything Now, captures the spirit of our distracted age.
In a surging song that sounds like several playing at once, frontman Win Butler holds up a mirror to the modern world with these words:
We’re infinitely content
All your money is already spent on it
All your money is already spent
Butler is warring against the Instagram age, mocking our contentment with endless streaming, infinite music, and never-ending social media feeds.
One of Eugene Peterson’s books on following Jesus is titled A Long Obedience in the Same Direction. His message is that discipleship to Jesus takes discipline and attention, and he’s right.
But how do we get people’s attention long enough to disciple them?
Almost two thousand years ago, an aging Apostle Paul penned a letter with his final words of wisdom for a young leader in the church. This fledgling leader was timid and reluctant to lead. If you’ve ever found yourself asked to lead beyond your capacity, you don’t want to miss Paul’s instructions for the making of a Christ-centered leader.
Episode length: 15 minutes
Main idea: The book of 2 Timothy shows us the making of a Christ-centered leader.
Brief intro to the book
Paul is writing to Timothy from prison, about to face his execution
Paul’s thoughts are on ensuring the faith is protected, taught, and passed on
3 observations about 2 Timothy
Paul was a prisoner in Rome
He was being held in a dismal underground dungeon with a hole in the ceiling for light and air
Emperor Nero was trying to destroy Christianity
Sensing his fate, Paul penned this letter to Timothy, calling him to guard the faith and ensure its passing on
Timothy was being thrust into a position of Christian leadership far beyond his natural capacity
Timothy enjoyed a special relationship with Paul
Paul left Timothy in charge of the church in Ephesus
Timothy was hopelessly unfit for these weighty responsibilities of leadership in the church
Three reasons why: 1) Timothy was relatively young for leadership in his day, 2) he was always sick, 3) he was timid and reluctant to lead.
Paul’s preoccupation in writing to Timothy is passing on the gospel
Timothy was charged with protecting, teaching, and spreading this gospel to the next generation
The gospel—the good news—of Jesus was Paul’s primary concern, and he urges Timothy to make it his
Do you identify with Timothy—in over your head and called to lead beyond your capacity?
How could it be a good thing that you feel unfit for your leadership role? What might your weaknesses reveal? Where do they cause you to look for help?
To know how God wants to use you, you must discover your strengths and your weaknesses. Your strengths hint at where God wants to use you, but your weaknesses reveal how he wants to use you. What are your wordly weaknesses? (Are you not that smart, uncomfortable around people, slow to understand, awkward, do you have a speech impediment or handicap?) How might God want to work through your weakness?
How do Paul’s leadership concerns differ from yours?
Paul told the Corinthian church that his primary concern was passing on the gospel. If you asked your group or others you lead what you primary concern is in leading them, what would they say?
If you’ve ever gone through a season of anxiety, depression, or the like, or you’re going through one right now, you’ll want to hear what we can learn from the book of Lamentations about how to find hope in suffering.
(Episode length: 30 mins)
Main idea: God wants to cultivate in you a hope that is fixed on him.
Right knowledge of God leads to hope in God
You can express your frustration and confusion to God over how he chooses to execute his purposes
What we think of God affects how we live
God’s faithfulness encourages ours
When you’re in a dark pit of anxiety or depression, the knowledge that God’s love is fixed on you and is not dependent on what you do drive you to hope in his deliverance
No matter how terrible today is, God’s mercies start anew with the rising of the sun each day
Hope is developed through waiting
If we’re thinking like God, we should be praying, “Change me, not my circumstances”
We can choose to live in despair, or we can choose to live with hope
Hope is grounded in eternity
Though we are grieved today, that grief will not last forever, because he is a compassionate God and great is his faithfulness
God has set his sights on loving you, and his love that never stops is abundant
Ultimately, our hope in Christ is rooted in knowing we’ll spend eternity with Christ
What comes to mind when you think about God?
We should look to God for our hope, happiness, significance, and security. Where have you misplaced your hope and trust? (Maybe in your kids’ ability to behave or perform in school, your job or a project you’re working on, or affirmation from your spouse, family, or friends.)
What are some ways God has shown you his faithfulness in the past 24 hours? In the past week? (Think of the groceries you just bought, the car you’re driving, your health, your paycheck, your kids, and most importantly your relationship with Jesus.)
With your previous answers in mind, now what comes to mind when you think about God?
Over and over again, studies show the most important thing for spiritual growth is reading the Bible, yet most people in the church aren’t doing it. Only 45% of those who regularly attend church read the Bible more than once a week. For each church attender who does read their Bible every day, there’s someone else who doesn’t read it at all.
I say this as a pastor who talks to people every week, inside and outside the church, with next to no biblical knowledge. The most concerning thing is that there doesn’t seem to be a distinction between those who are new to the faith and those who isave been Christians for several years, sometimes even a decade or more.
Why is it that despite the evidence, despite our sincere longing to grow spiritually, we don’t do the one thing most capable of producing that growth?
In my experience, there are two main reasons people don’t read their Bible. The first is that people honestly don’t understand the Bible holds transformational power. Second, they don’t read the Bible because they don’t know how to find delight in reading it. Both issues are worth understanding in more detail.