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But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.
“Keep your head in the game!” I can still hear some of my former coaches giving me this advice. Usually they would say this during the latter part of a game, when exhaustion had set in and the sweat from my brow was now clouding my vision. Something about my performance was letting them know that I was not as driven and sober minded as I had been at the beginning of the game. The first quarter is always characterized by zeal, passion, and optimism. The fourth quarter is usually a good test of your commitment, drive, and fervor. Every athlete wants to win the championship, and every person wants to attain his or her own personal goals. However, the in-between is what tests our resolve to reach our desired destination. How well do you handle the unexpected? How do you deal with pressure?
As a leader, I frequently reflect on past seasons and times of critical decision-making in my life. More often than not, these critical decisions were made during tumultuous seasons rife with pressure. I wish that life leant me problems and circumstances in compartmentalized vacuums . . . this would be easier. Then I could make decisions with a clear head and ensure my odds on making the right decision. However, this is not the scenario that we as leaders experience. We battle with leading others in the most positive way, balancing numerous responsibilities, and just living life in general. If we’re not careful, we become overwhelmed emotionally, spiritually, and mentally. It is at this point that we become ineffective as leaders and prone to making major mistakes. Every now and then, we must learn to reset our focus and clear our minds in the midst of intense pressure. In essence, we must learn to keep our heads in all situations.
Paul knew the importance of keeping a clear and level head no matter what the situation. He had been through trials, discouragement, and outright imprisonment, yet he continued to lead the church to stability even in the direst of personal circumstances.
Paul’s young apprentice, Timothy, was privy to the suffering that the apostle experienced throughout his journey to destiny. He would accompany Paul on his visits to the early churches. It was Timothy who would visit Paul in prison, where he would see this great leader in his most vulnerable and weakest states. Amidst trials and difficulties, good times and bad, Timothy personally witnessed Paul’s commitment to his calling and purpose. These examples spoke clearly to Timothy, when Paul charged him to “keep his head in all situations.” Paul was preparing Timothy to withstand the pressures of life that would surely come, so that he might excel in providing clear and precise leadership to others.
Paul could have suffered in silence and hidden himself away from Timothy. However, he understood the power of transparency. Timothy would learn best by watching Paul press towards the mark in spite of his hurt. This example gave weight and credibility to Paul’s words when he charged Timothy to remain steadfast in the middle of diverse turbulent circumstances. As leaders, we must learn how to let our Timothys observe our walk in close proximity. We must allow them to see us when we are discouraged and when we reset our minds to move forward anyway. It is imperative that they walk beside us throughout our journeys so that they can identify what consistency looks like. They will only appreciate the lesson as they experience it with us and watch us persevere. Leaders, our rhetoric is only as strong as our lifestyle . . . our charge is only as strong as our example. Let us teach our Timothys what life has taught us . . . how to keep our heads in all situations.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
How do you handle pressure?
Do you allow your Timothys to walk closely with you?
Are you an approachable and transparent leader to those who follow you?
What would your Timothys learn from your example?
Father, I am grateful for the fact that you have called and chosen me for your good work. I acknowledge that I have only made it this far in my journey because of your grace. God, today I am aware of those whom you’ve called me to lead. I pray for their strength, that they might remain steadfast in your work, as you have caused me to stay committed to you. Help me to be a more transparent leader who allows them to walk beside me and benefit from my journey in you. Teach me how to equip the next generation to live resolute in your power and calling for their lives. In Christ’s name we pray, Amen.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online Bible commentary: 2 Timothy 3:1–9
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