Saturday, November 15, 2014

2 Timothy 3: Leadership is Modelling & Equipping



2 Tim 3:10-17 You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra—which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me. Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

There are two aspects of true leadership: modelling and equipping.

The first aspect is modelling: As leaders we can only bring people to places we have been there ourselves--and no further. Jesus did not ask his disciples to do what He himself never did. So, Paul in this passage is not ashamed to assert that Timothy has done well because he has "followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions and sufferings" (v.10-11). Leadership is providing a personal example to our followers to imitate (modelling). It's not the SAF dictum given to recruits: "do what I say but don't do what I do". Rather, leadership is "do what I do, not just what I say."

The second aspect is equipping: While modelling is critical to good leadership, we can only transfer this leadership model if we can equip those who follow us. Leadership equipping involves acquiring the right knowledge (head), the right attitudes (heart) and the right skills (hand). Great leadership is measured by our ability to make others leaders. Leadership development of our followers are not automatic--we have to equip them with leadership knowledge, attitudes and skills in order to complete the leadership process.

What does it take to equip our followers? Paul gives us the steps in verses 16-17: "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work."

First of all, the foundational tool for leadership equipping is "All Scripture." By "all Scripture" Paul is referring primarily to the Hebrew Scripture (OT) since the NT scripture was still being written and would not have been completed until the end of the first century, years after Paul was martyred in Rome. As far as Paul is concerned, the OT Scripture is "breathed out by God" (RSV: "inspired", but literally "expired" by God) and therefore very much valid and relevant for NT believers. There is no dichotomy in Paul's mind--there is only one Scripture (singular) and he calls it "all Scripture." Modern attempt to make the OT irrelevant is contrary to Paul's teaching.

So how can Scripture be used to equip our people so that they may be "competent, equipped for every good work"? There are three parts to the equipping process, corresponding to the head, the heart and the hand as given in v. 16: "for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training."
  • Head ("for teaching"): This refers  to imparting the body of biblical knowledge regarding our faith (doctrines). Its basic purpose is to inform. It answers the "What?" question.
  • Heart ("for reproof, for correction"): This is a two phased process: reproving wrong attitudes and correcting by calling for change of heart. The basic purpose in this process is to align our heart attitudes with our head knowledge. It answers the "Why?" question. 
  • Hands ("for training"): Training involves imparting skills that are necessary to do what our heart now believes is right. For example, we know in our head that personal time with God is important. Then we are convicted in our heart by our pastors and mentors' reproof and correction that neglecting our personal time with God is detrimental to our spiritual life. And now we are getting down to doing something about it: we need the right tools (bible and study guide) and the disciplines to sit down daily and write down our reflections in our journal. So, training involves the practicalities of turning good intentions into right behaviour. The basic purpose is to impart the right skills to live a godly life. It answers the "How?" question.
Most pastors are good in the first two aspects of the equipping process (teaching and exhortation), but are generally weak in the third aspect--training. It's hard to blame them because most seminary professors model only teaching rather than training. For example, we teach our congregation what is evangelism, and why we must do it. But very often, we neglect showing them how to do it. 

One of the missing keys to training is modeling. In Alpha training, we don't just impart knowledge about Alpha (what?) or the principles of Alpha (why?). But we spend much time on the practicalities of planning, small group facilitation, prayer ministry, etc. We do this by modelling, demonstrating, role-playing and calling for actual hands-on practice. This is how training takes place. And this is how we move from equipping as information to equipping as transformation.

Father, grant us wisdom to not only teach but also train well. Amen.

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