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?
I know—that’s a heavy question. But all of us ask it of ourselves at some point, and I guarantee some of the people in your group are asking it right now. We come up with standards we think will make us into the person we want to be, but we end up feeling crushed beneath the weight of it all. So what hope is there when you feel like that? Listen to this week’s episode to find out.
(Episode length: 15 mins)
Main idea: There’s only one Person who can bear the weight of living.
All of us are trying to live up to something
The tendency today is to set up some standard for yourself then judge your value and self-worth based on how well you think you’re performing next to your standards
We’re all bound to something; we’re all trying to live up to something
The weight of living is crushing
When you make your performance the measure of your self-worth and value, then you will always be crushed beneath the weight
Every one of our life-lies can and will be taken from us at some point because everything in this life is temporary
Jesus can bare the weight
Jesus didn’t promise for us not to be yoked to anything—he promised to give us rest, relief, from the weight of living, if we yoke ourselves to him instead
In the church, we talk a lot about “following Jesus,” or being a “Christ-follower.” But I fear that this is one of those terms we can hear so much that we become numb to what it actually means, or we assume we know what it means when we haven’t really thought much about it at all. When you look closely at what Jesus said, you might find that following him means something different than you thought.
Main idea: A disciple is one who responds in faith and obedience to the gracious call to follow Jesus Christ. Following Jesus is a lifelong process of dying to self while allowing Jesus Christ to come alive in us.
What “following Jesus” really means
The word “disciple” literally means learner, but in Jesus’ day that meant something closer to apprentice
A disciple responds in faith and obedience
Responding in faith to Christ, then, means we are assured, we are confident, in his promises of salvation, restoration, and eternal life
But responding to Christ’s call to follow him is not merely about faith – it’s also about obedience, or doing what Jesus tells us to do
If we have truly put our faith in Christ, then our inward transformation will have outward results
The gracious call to follow Jesus
We accept a gift that we graciously given to us by God through Jesus’ sacrificial death and resurrection (Eph. 2:1-10)
Following Jesus is a lifelong process
Following Jesus is a decision to enter into a pattern of recreating our lives to look more like his
God will see the work He began in us to completion (Phil. 1:6)
Dying to self while allowing Jesus to come alive in us
Jesus calls us to say no to ourselves so we can say yes to him
As we deny ourselves, we make more and more room for Jesus to take up residence in our hearts and minds
As a group leader, does it feel like you give the same advice to the same people and nothing ever changes? Maybe you’re doing a lot of good things, but not the most important thing. Listen to this week’s episode to find out what that is.
(Episode length: 17 mins)
Main idea: The most important thing you can do for your group members is pray for them.
Only God has the power to change the human heart
Ezekiel 37: Ezekiel’s vision of the valley of bones
Paul’s prayer for the Ephesian church
Difference between knowing and tasting
You can read about a relationship with Jesus in a book without actually tasting what that relationship is like
Lives are not changed when people know about a relationship with Jesus; lives are changed when people taste a relationship with Jesus
Paul prays for the Ephesians to have the eyes of their hearts enlightened to the taste of three flavors of a relationship with Christ…
The hope to which God has called them. If people get that they will spend eternity with Jesus and that he came not only to redeem their future but to redeem their present, they will live differently.
The riches of God’s inheritance in the saints. Paul prayed that the believers would know the riches of God’s glorious inheritance in the saints. God’s inheritance is the people who believe in Him (the “saints”).
Knowing that God is giddy to spend eternity with you changes how you live and think.
The immeasurable greatness of God’s power towards those who believe
The power God gives to each believer is the same power that raised Christ from the dead, and the same power that ascended Christ into heaven and seated him at the right hand of God