1 Timothy 4:16—Pay close attention to your life and your teaching; persevere in these things, for by doing this you will save both yourself and your hearers.
The Apostle Paul wrote his protégé Timothy to encourage him but what makes his words so powerful is his own example. He faithfully paid close attention to his life and his teaching. Next to Jesus, the case could be made that he influenced Christianity worldwide through his leadership more than any other man. His epistles continue as vital roots of the worship, theology, and pastoral life in the Catholic and Protestant traditions of the West, and the Orthodox traditions of the East.
What made Saint Paul such a strong leader was that he:
My team briefed me at 3:30 p.m. The key slide in their operational brief that I would have to in turn brief my boss at 5:00 p.m. was awful. The words that were to describe our progress were not clear and there were too many confusing acronyms. And what was supposed to be a clear map for the location of the disaster in our exercise, with scope of destruction from a notional bomb, was just a big brown blob. Each subordinate unit that briefed me had much better graphics depicting roads, cities and key information. But I couldn’t use their work because by the time all the units finished speaking there wasn’t enough time for the staff to swap content. Inside I was fuming. This was our first chance to make a strong impression on our higher headquarters and our one slide was unprofessional.
Our main objective in Kenya is to establish a team of 40* people committed to becoming disciple makers. In the process of leading prayer walks and speaking to large gatherings of pastors and laymen, eager men and women emerged ready to be trained. The church in Kenya is not lacking for disciples, what it lacks is disciple makers (leaders committed to reproducing disciples).
They are mentioned in one paragraph in the Bible and then (with the possible exception of Acts 15:22) never again. They walked near Jesus from the time He was baptized by John to His ascension to heaven but we know next to nothing about them. What kind of personality and gifting did each man have? How frequently did they gain access to the Master?
Seventeen teenagers endured the grueling heat, humidity and bugs of their Florida boot camp. They came from all across the country and Canada. Most of them had never met before yet they all had a common bond. The rules were strict and the discipline tough. Still they pressed onward.
Tucked away in a remote part of America, Durino, Jack, Pat, Larry, Johnny and George meet six mornings a week at the Silver Spoon. For years they met at The Hook Shop until tight financial times forced its owner to close. Their appreciation for each other is built on a daily investment of time they wouldn’t think of forsaking. Over coffee they sit and poke fun at each other and trade the latest news. In rural Kellogg, Idaho, a healthy habit most of urban America has lost flourishes.
If you would like to study the rudimentary formation of a team, watching third grade boys in basketball practice is a great place to start! Whoooooo, what a blast! When eight and nine-year old boys go out on the court what do you suppose is the predominant thought in most of their minds? It doesn’t take long to figure out.
I suspect the biggest challenge a coach has is to teach his players the art of passing. Passing means recognizing it might be better for my teammates for me not to dribble and shoot because someone is in a better place than me to advance the ball or score. Watching youngsters learn to pass is priceless. Once they understand that they are better working together than in trying to win solo, great things happen.
Have you ever watched a Sumo match? Holy cow—what a ground shaking event! Two men of huge girth stand apart from each other in the middle of a large circle wearing only loincloths. Each warrior attempts to expel the other outside the ring by exerting clever technique combined with brute force. Sumo wrestling is the national sport and pastime of the Japanese. It is a more elegant, ancient and simplified version of America’s pro-wrestling.
The Bible references the number 40, 114 times. It often signifies completion for a period of blessing, testing or punishment. Consider: “You will bear the consequences of your sins 40 years based on the number of the 40 days that you scouted the land, a year for each day. You will know My displeasure” (Numbers 14:34). So God condemned a generation of Israelites to wander in the Sinai desert, a place of barrenness that aptly illustrated the shriveled state of their faith. They would not enter the promised land because it contained giants. The only exception God made was to 40-year-old Joshua and his friend Caleb. He blessed these two courageous men who saw opportunity where others feared defeat.