Acts 16:1-5 (NIV)
1 He [Paul] came to Derbe and then to Lystra, where a disciple named Timothy lived, whose mother was a Jewess and a believer, but whose father was a Greek. 2 The brothers at Lystra and Iconium spoke well of him. 3 Paul wanted to take him along on the journey, so he circumcised him because of the Jews who lived in that area, for they all knew that his father was a Greek. 4 As they traveled from town to town, they delivered the decisions reached by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem for the people to obey. 5 So the churches were strengthened in the faith and grew daily in numbers.
This is a pivotal moment in the life of a young man named Timothy – and for the church in Ephesus he would one day pastor. Paul, under God’s direction, plucks this young man from obscurity to an eventual place of prominence in the church. This is a great little introduction to Timothy because I think it shows what’s required of any young leader. In fact, I would tell any young leader (maybe not young in age, but new to leadership) that these are the requirements for leadership:
1. God’s Call. This is the first and most important requirement for ministry. It’s not specifically stated here, but it is implied. Referring to this moment, Paul would one day remind Timothy of God’s calling on his life at the laying on of the Apostle’s hands (1 Timothy 4:14, 14 Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hands on you.). Leadership is tough – so if God hasn’t called you, chances are you’ll move on to greener pastures when things get hard. But if you have heard God call you to something, chances are higher that you will stick it out.
2. Good Reputation. I can’t stress how important it is to have a good reputation – being known for doing the right thing. Especially nowadays, when the wrong thing can go viral in minutes, it’s important to keep your nose clean. Life is so much easier when you meet someone for the first time (like Timothy here) and positive reports about your character has preceded you. Paul said the same thing of deacons and elders in the church (see 1 Tim. 3:7-8).
3. Pay the Price. Every young leader has to pay the price…to pay his dues. You have to go through the hard times to get to the good times. Timothy was no different. He paid quite a price to minister with Paul to the Jews in the area (see v. 3, I don’t want to talk about it). But as I always say, anything worth having comes with a price – and if you want it bad enough, you will pay.
4. Pay your Dues. This is similar to the point above, only it relates to position. Generally speaking, great leaders start out at the bottom and work their way up. Unfortunately, not many seem willing to do so these days. Regardless of popular opinion, overnight successes are a myth. Timothy started his ministry by going from church to church being a news delivery boy. But it was important news. And apparently he was good at it (see v. 5). He was found trustworthy and he eventually came to lead one of the largest churches in Asia-minor.
Look at that list again. These aren’t just the requirements for pastors. You can substitute any leadership role in your life and see that the requirements are still valid: CEO, PTA volunteer, manager, salesman, spouse, parent. The leadership process is the same. In your quest for being a better leader – don’t cut corners.
Thank you for meeting these requirements at New Life! We are a better church because you refuse to cut corners.