If the greatest leader wrote down a list of imperatives that every aspiring leader should follow, would you read them and try to apply them?
Well the apostle Paul, one of the greatest leaders and church builders ever wrote down a series of insights and imperatives in his letters to one of his mentees, Timothy.
1. Leadership requires a settled commitment to divine placement.
In the opening greetings of his letter to Timothy, Paul tells Timothy twice to stay where he is. Here is our first principle: remain. This is the idea of staying put: remain at all costs, persevere—be anchored like a ship in the harbor where God has placed you.
The first place the enemy will attack you is in your mind, trying to get you to be double-minded about where you are. Start with the mindset that you will be happy and fruitful wherever God places you. Don’t use sovereignty as an excuse to move yourself.
Divine placement always puts you in over your head. If it’s not God, then you are probably not in the right place. Paul believed Timothy was able to adapt to where he was. Be a leader where you are planted.
2. Leadership requires confrontational strength.
In Timothy’s case, there were people teaching false doctrine and “foolish nonsense.” Paul instructed Timothy to confront them. Leaders must confront a person, not a philosophy or idea. There will be times when you have to draw the line with someone.
Confrontation does not always mean getting in their face and saying, “You’re totally wrong and I’m not working with you.” Being a leader means that you stand for something and help others see it. If you see someone doing something wrong, you have to take them aside and talk about it.
Confrontation means you weave together enough tension to get a decision. Use the tension to get the best decision without getting people mad at you. Remember that confrontational strength is best when done with the heart in the right place. Make sure you are not pushing your own agenda. Get to the heart and attitude behind the action and do it with pure motives.
3. Leadership requires a pure spirit in the leader.
Paul directs Timothy saying, “The purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart” (1 Timothy 1:5).
Ministry is not a professional life; but it is a spiritual life that begins with the heart if the heart is kept pure. The heart of a leader is the “seat” of all ministry functions. Your soul and your spirit are the launching pad for your ministry. Keeping your heart pure is a requirement. Notice that Paul does not say to have heart—he says to have a pure heart.
Have a pure heart in actions and motives. Right motives are critical to sustaining healthy ministry. You may do good things, but if the core is wrong, the ministry will ultimately collapse. Understand that productivity does not prove right motives.
Examine your motives with these questions: Why do I do what I do? Why do I say what I say? What are the hidden motives of my heart? Why do I want my ministry to be cool, my website to be best, etc.?