The New Testament Model of Training Leadership

I was reading 10 Attributes of a Humble Leader at Catalyst Space (link here) when I came to this:

“Humble leaders know the vision is bigger and will last longer than they will, so they willingly invest in others, raising up and maturing new leaders.”

You will not find more prominent leaders in the New Testament than Jesus and the Apostle Paul, and this is exactly what they were doing.

Jesus gives the apostles authority to heal the sick, and later to cast out demons and evil spirits, then sends them out in pairs to minister.  Rather than tour the country like some kind of celebrity pastor/evangelist, Jesus empowered others.  Jesus speaks to the multitudes in parables, then privately explains the meanings to a smaller group of disciples.  Sometimes it is just the twelve that are privy to a particular lesson, and sometimes it is only a select few (such as Peter, James and John) that witness a spectacular event, such as the transfiguration.  The bottom line is this: a careful study of the Gospels reveals that much of Jesus’ time and energy is spent preparing the Apostles for the ministry they would have in the early days of the Christian church, knowing that he would not be there to do everything for them.  Much of the Gospel story (such as Mark 11 – 16 and John 12 – 21) is devoted to Holy Week, the final days of Jesus’ ministry.  Likewise, much of that time is spent imparting final words of wisdom to his chosen twelve.

Paul’s most prominent student was Timothy, but there were many others.  We still read 1st and 2nd Timothy as the handbook for church leadership.  Like Jesus, Paul could have been the biggest name on the marquee but he is constantly thinking ahead to a time when he will have gone on.  Paul not only has students but partners in and supporters of the ministry.  He relies on others to be his hands and feet, and is thankful that he is not alone.

The model we are given of leadership in the New Testament is to constantly be training up the next generation of leaders.  I have met pastors that get nervous when young preachers show a little bit of natural talent.  If a lay preacher or youth pastor is growing in popularity, then a senior pastor has something he can work with.  It is envy that tells us we must hold onto the spotlight as long as possible.  The natural order is to learn from those who came before us, and even while doing the work be thinking ahead to those who will follow in our footsteps.  Jesus was a humble and obedient servant (Phil 2).  He was willing to wash the disciples feet.  We cannot become more Christ-like if we are merely delegating menial responsibilities to those beneath us.

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2 thoughts on “The New Testament Model of Training Leadership

  1. I totally agree. Leaders MUST train others to follow. It is so sad to see leaders(?) get jealous of their positions and fight to maintain them by denigrating the one they have been nurturing, instead of praising God and moving on to the next task He has for him.
    We are born to reproduce spiritually in more ways than one.

  2. Amen. Well said, the more the merrier. Paul is the model for many things, if you were to only read his books you would come away with a great understanding of all things in the church with Christ at the head.

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