It can sound so egotistical to say, “I’m the leader”. There’s no doubt being a leader holds an inherent danger. The “power of leadership” can easily produce a spirit of self-importance and self-centeredness. In fact I’ve watched gifted leaders crash and burn because the “leadership position” became a means of power rather than a means of serving.
In 2 Timothy Paul starts his letter basically telling Timothy, “I’m the leader”, but in doing so models for us the reason we lead. He writes, “This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus. I have been sent out to tell others about the life he has promised through faith in Christ Jesus.”
I lead because God put me in leadership. Paul says he was, “chosen by the will of God to be an apostle”. I talk to young men all the time who tell me they want to go into ministry. The temptation is to immediately encourage them and push them forward but instead my typical response is, “If you can do anything else do it.” I say this not because I’ve had a horrible experience being in ministry. I say it because I want them to ensure that what they’re feeling is from God and not just an infatuation with ministry. A person is in dangerous territory when they place themselves in leadership or manipulate their way into a position. So I lead because God put me in my current leadership position. I thank God for it every day, but hold my position loosely.
I lead to serve His purposes. Next, Paul says he recognizes that he is in his leadership position “to tell others about the life He has promised.” Reggie McNeal once jokingly told me, “Leadership is creating the world you want to live in.” That’s a very real temptation. When we find ourselves in a leadership position, we have power. And we can abuse that power by serving our own purposes rather than becoming a servant of God’s purposes. Paul understood he was a servant to God’s purpose of helping people discover and know the promise of life in Christ. I have to remind myself all too frequently why I lead…I lead not so I can build my dreams or execute my ideas…I lead for the purpose of encouraging, equipping and empowering His church to reach the lost.
Are you using your leadership to serve your own purpose or to be a servant to God’s purpose?