‘Great leaders all have one thing in common. They know that acquiring and keeping good people is a leader’s most important task,’ writes John Maxwell in his book, Developing the Leaders Around You. He urges his readers, ‘Find the best people you can, then develop them into the best leaders they can be.’
Paul is condemned and in a dark, dank dungeon with just a hole in the ceiling for light and air. He is in ‘chains’ (2 Timothy 1:16), ‘like a criminal’ (2:9). He is lonely, bored and cold (4:9–13). Death is inevitable. According to tradition, he was condemned to die by beheading under Nero’s persecution.
This is probably his last letter. Paul chose to write to an individual rather than to a church. Timothy was a leader whom Paul had found, trained and developed. Paul was probably in his sixties and Timothy in his early thirties.
As Paul becomes aware that he is handing on the gospel to the next generation, his greatest concern is that Timothy should guard it (1:11–14). The older I get, the more I appreciate the wisdom of the generations before me and the more I realise the responsibility we all have to pass the baton on to the next generation.
This psalm is both a personal reflection on life and also a resource produced by the psalmist to help others build their lives and leadership on the right foundation.
In particular, he sets an example of faith in God’s word: ‘I have put my hope in your word… All your commands are trustworthy… I have not forsaken your precepts’ (vv.81b,86a,87b).
Lord, help me to be faithful in spite of all the ‘pitfalls’ (v.85) and persecutions (v.86). Help me to do all I can to train up the next generation of leaders.
All of us can have spiritual children.
Paul probably had no natural children but he had spiritual children. He describes Timothy as ‘my dear son’ (v.2). He had led him to faith in the Lord (Acts 16:1–2). For fifteen years Timothy had been Paul’s companion and had accompanied him on his second and third missionary journeys (Romans 16:21; 1 Thessalonians 3:2 and Philippians 2:19–20). Now Timothy is in a position of leadership in Ephesus.
Paul mentored, trained and discipled Timothy and passed wisdom on to him. He sets a model and example of how to develop the next generation of leaders.
Lord, help me to pass on the baton to the next generation – to pray for them, love them, believe in them, minister to them, encourage them, entrust them and share with them.
One of the problems highlighted again and again in Jeremiah is the weakness and wickedness of the people’s leaders. Here we see the awful consequences of how wrong things can go without the right leadership.
‘Doesn’t Israel have any children, no one to step into her inheritance?’ (49:1, MSG). The inheritance was open but there was no one who grew into it.
The antithesis of God’s way of leadership is pride and arrogance – the great sins of Moab, ‘the extremely proud one – his loftiness, his arrogance, his conceit, and the haughtiness of his heart’ (48:29, AMP).
Pride and independence are often regarded as good qualities by the world – but they are a great sin in the eyes of the Lord because they lead us away from him. Pride and independence say, ‘I don’t need you.’
Proclaiming judgment against Moab and Ammon, Jeremiah says, ‘A curse on those who are lax in doing the Lord’s work!’ (v.10). ‘Moab has always taken it easy – lazy as a dog in the sun, never had to work for a living, never faced any trouble, never had to grow up, never once worked up a sweat’ (v.11, MSG).
Hard work is more important than innate talent. As Thomas Edison famously said, ‘Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration.’ Developing the next generation will involve hard work.
There is an important principle. We should apply the same standard to the Lord’s work as we do, for example, to our secular jobs (provided we are committed to them!). In most secular jobs there is a requirement of 100% efficiency and commitment. I am always so impressed by our volunteers who turn up with such regularity, love and commitment. It is amazing to see their dedication year after year. For many, it is a lifelong commitment to service.
Lord, may I never be lax in doing your work. May our generation be a generation that guards the gospel, develops leaders and passes it on to the next generation.
2 Timothy 1:5
‘I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice.’
It is wonderful to see faith passed down three generations. Well done Lois!