In his book, The Generals, Thomas Ricks relates the changes that took place in the US army leadership during the twentieth century. Beginning with WWI, Ricks describes shifting philosophies that worked or didn’t work during the century’s conflicts. In WWII, George Marshall developed a teamwork leadership model and implemented a strategy with the clear purpose of working together with all the allies to defeat the Axis Powers. Clear mission with a clear strategy resulted in success. In contrast, Army strategy and leadership philosophy in Vietnam faltered. The conflict lacked a clear mission, failed to develop adequate leadership, experienced stateside political distraction and did not hold officers or enlisted men to the high standard that had been set in previous conflicts. It is unsurprising then that WWII is remembered as a victory and Vietnam is not. In I Timothy 2:1-15, Paul advocates a similar approach to pastoral leadership. Our mission must be prioritized—God desires the salvation of people through Jesus Christ (vv. 4-6). We should pray for government officials so that distractions and geopolitical difficulties will not inhibit the spread of the gospel (vv. 1-3). We should carry ourselves in an attitude of prayer and peace so that anger and quarreling will not distract from the mission (v. 8). We should not focus on outward appearances, personal image, nor allow gender and theological divisions to hinder the mission (vv. 9-15). In short, Paul admonishes Timothy to keep his priorities straight. Major on the gospel. Keep minor issues from becoming major distractions. The implications of 1 Timothy 2 are vital for pastors and church members. When we pray together faithfully, the priority of the gospel takes center stage. When we focus on the gospel, we necessarily focus less on our image, our platform or our opinions. When we organize our church leadership upon a biblical framework, we operate out of God’s expectations and can more faithfully live on mission. Are you clear about the mission of the gospel? Or are you living distracted?
Sunday School Lesson for the Biblical Recorder originally published here
Focal Passage 1 Timothy 2:1-15
For more about living on mission, consider reading a copy of my new book Commissioned: Leading the Neighbors and the Nations to Follow Jesus. You can find it here