Keith West, Founder & President
Leadership Lessons from 1 & 2 Timothy
Lesson 1: Keep Your Head in All Situations
But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry. (2 Timothy 4:5, NIV)
The Apostle Paul had many young leaders whom he mentored over the course of his ministry. Can you imagine being invited to go on a journey with Paul as he blazed a church planting trail throughout much of the Roman Empire? It would be quite a transformational adventure for an emerging leader. Sign me up for that opportunity! Timothy was a young man in whom Paul saw great potential, so he decided to make a long-term relational investment in Timothy’s spiritual growth and professional development.
The above exhortation that Paul gave Timothy intrigues me, so I decided to do a deeper dive into 1 and 2 Timothy to find out if Paul actually gave specific fatherly instructions to Timothy who he addressed as “my true son in the faith” in 1 Timothy 1:2. What were the circumstances surrounding the admonition to keep his head in all situations? What thoughts or behaviors did Paul seek to address with this young pastor at the church in Ephesus? I was able to identify five key instructions that could apply to any young adult who wants to continue to mature as a leader.
Keep your head in the game
Most of us know how easily we can be distracted by other people’s adventures and opportunities. These distractions often lead to discontentment in our current situation. For example, if someone gets a promotion or is invited into the inner circle of leadership in your organization, do you become jealous and resentful? If a co-worker or friend who is less skilled, polished, and experienced than you is offered a “once in a lifetime opportunity,” do you find yourself being judgmental, critical, and envious of her? There is a saying in American culture - “The grass is always greener on the other side.” Are you currently a distracted worker or student, eyeing the greener pastures that beckon you from across the fence? Do you find yourself fantasizing about how different your life might be if you were given the opportunity to get to the other side? I have been there, my friend!
It’s surprisingly easy to lose passion and focus in your current assignment and to fantasize about a new opportunity, especially when you are experiencing difficult challenges. That’s why we need to be reminded to keep our heads in the game. We are accountable for our attitudes and actions in this present moment. Paul reminded Timothy, “As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus…” (1 Timothy 1:3). Apparently, they had already had this discussion on at least one occasion, and it is clear that Paul thought it best to exhort Timothy to apply himself to his current assignment, and to perform his leadership duties with undivided focus and due diligence. He expected Timothy to keep his head in all situations, not just the easy situations, but the hard ones as well. Paul helped Timothy keep his head in the game, and his admonition will help you too. Keep your head in the game, my friend!
A Leader’s Prayer
Heavenly Father, I struggle with discontentment and distraction when leadership becomes difficult and my responsibilities seem mundane! Sometimes I become jealous of the accomplishments and adventures of others, which if I am not careful, leads to resentment toward them and toward You. Help me to take these thoughts captive and to seek contentment in my current assignment. You placed me here, creating opportunities for me to be a difference maker where I am. Help me to keep my head in all situations, being grateful for this current assignment, and to rest in your sovereign will for my life. I trust You, Father. Help me keep my head in the game! Amen.
Stay tuned for Key Instruction 2: Don’t let leadership go to your head