MSG: Train Your Replacements: Leadership in Jesus! 1 Timothy 4:11-16

This message was presented on April 27, 2014 as part of the 1 Timothy series.

When Andrew Carnegie was a small boy, he came to America from his native Scotland. He did a variety of odd jobs, and eventually became the largest steel manufacturer in the United States. At one time he had forty-three millionaires working for him (in todays’ money it would be equivalent to at least twenty million dollars).

A reporter asked Carnegie how he had been able to hire forty-three millionaires. Carnegie responded that those men were not millionaires when they started. The reporter then asked, “How did you develop these men to become so valuable to you that you paid them so much?” Carnegie replied that men are developed the same way gold is mined. When gold is mined, several tons of dirt must be moved to get an ounce of gold; but one doesn’t go into the mine looking for dirt – one goes in looking for the gold.

That’s exactly the way we need to view people. Don’t look for the flaws, warts, and blemishes. Look for the gold, not for the dirt; the good, not the bad. Like everything else, the more good qualities we look for in people, the more good qualities we are going to find. Source Unknown.

Is anyone born a leader? It seems that there are some personalities or temperaments that would make good leaders, but that is never a good gauge. How many parents are leaders? Every parent leads his children. God desires every Christian to disciple others, so it’s just a matter of how each one will lead! The church is God’s pillar of truth and we must steel our thinking so that we can be prepared to lead in our communities. If we don’t lead, the world will continue to slide down the spiral of immorality. How do you prepare leadership in Jesus? Paul wrote to Timothy, so we are going to look for Paul’s intent, but we are also looking for Jesus’ intent, because He directed the Spirit’s inspiration to Paul in this passage that affects you and me today!

1) Train them to know who they are in Jesus 4:11-12

We saw this verse last time and it bears urgency to remind us of what we are to do. Paul wrote,

11 These things command and teach. (1 Tim. 4:11 NKJ)

“Command and teach these things.” This includes all that Paul wrote about up to this point:

  • the need to be on guard from false teaching from chapter one
  • the need to pray on behalf of leaders in chapter two
  • the need to raise up qualities leaders in chapter three
  • the need to be alert to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons as well as the urgency to pursue godliness in the first part of chapter four. The leader, the discipler, the husband and the friend are all mouthpieces of God. God is the source. He uses you and me as his mouthpiece. What did God say through Paul? “Be who you are in Jesus.” What you see is,

12 Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity. (1 Tim. 4:12 NKJ)

The phrase “Let no one despise” means “Do not let them think down (negatively) on you.” Timothy was a young man, a disciple of Paul’s. The author Vincent says that Timothy was likely 38-40 years old. Thirty-eight is old for a football player, but young for a president. There were many men that were older than Timothy, but Paul said (in modern slang), “You are as God made you and God don’t make junk.” God made you unique so you could contribute to the world what no one else could.  We’ve not looked at the passage in which Paul connected to Timothy. Let’s note that from Acts 16,

Then he came to Derbe and Lystra. And behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a certain Jewish woman who believed, but his father was Greek. 2 He was well spoken of by the brethren who were at Lystra and Iconium. 3 Paul wanted to have him go on with him. And he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in that region, for they all knew that his father was Greek. 4 And as they went through the cities, they delivered to them the decrees to keep, which were determined by the apostles and elders at Jerusalem. 5 So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and increased in number daily. (Acts 16:1-5 NKJ)

Timothy had no father input spiritually. He did, however, have two wonderful women, who loved Jesus as Paul wrote,

3 I thank God, whom I serve with a pure conscience, as my forefathers did, as without ceasing I remember you in my prayers night and day, 4 greatly desiring to see you, being mindful of your tears, that I may be filled with joy, 5 when I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also. (2 Tim. 1:3-5 NKJ)

Timothy was godly, but to those who looked down on him he didn’t have confidence to say, “I appreciate your opinion; I’ll keep it in mind.”  No, Timothy internalized the criticism, the challenges, and confusions and was troubled. In fact, Paul told him,

23 No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for your stomach’s sake and your frequent infirmities. (1 Tim. 5:23 NKJ)

He was so troubled by the people that he needed some help to relax and take a breather!

But Paul doesn’t leave him there. Paul knows there is gold in Timothy. It’s just like Paul knew there was gold in Colossae,

9 For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; 10 and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power. (Col. 2:9-10 NKJ)

“You are complete in Him!” There is gold in you! Is there something that is not the way God made you? Do you think God accepts you the way you are? Do you think He knows how to remove the dirt to let the gold shine? Yes! And yes, people can seem to take your joy away. They like to focus on the dirt rather than the gold.

Why do people look down on you?  Paul wrote,

12 Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity. (1 Tim. 4:12 NKJ)

Do you know that Timothy was not the only person people looked down on? Turn to Matthew 13,

54 And when He had come to His own country, He taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished and said, “Where did this Man get this wisdom and these mighty works?  55 “Is this not the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary? And His brothers James, Joses, Simon, and Judas? 56 “And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this Man get all these things?” 57 So they were offended at Him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country and in his own house.” (Matt. 13:54-57 NKJ)

Why do people look down on you? Why? It’s simple. They are inadequate themselves.  They are not spiritual parents looking for ways to build up, so they put down. They might be jealous, or bitter, or resentful, or upset with God, or not feeling blessed, or comparing self with others.  Some compete and if they can’t win they will put you down with “cute cuts.” Those are quick jabs that are meant as humorous, but at your expense.

How do I deal with it, when my senses tell me I’m not adequate or totally together? You hear people say, “Don’t quit your day job.” Or, “Is that all you can do?” Or, “When are you going to learn?” You can’t control how others think or speak, but you can control how you respond.  Do I defend myself by emphasizing my strengths instead?  Do I tell others, “Love me or leave me?”  Do I say, “This is the way God made me, and I’m not going to change”?

Paul told, no he commanded Timothy, “Keep growing.” “Be an example!” What are your strengths and weaknesses? You have both. Humble yourself to ask what your weaknesses are.  You can’t change your age, your parents, your sex, your brain, your bodily features, or your background.  You can’t change many things, but there are many more things that God can change if you are humble and pursue Him.

Let God grow you spiritually by pursuing Him. Paul wrote,

12 Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity. (1 Tim. 4:12 NKJ)

Paul commanded Timothy, “Be an example.”  Or, “Make your walk match your talk.” In fact, “Become what you are not today!” In the ancient world, they used a stylus with a V-shaped wedge on the end in which they pressed different patterns in clay tablets, which formed letters, words and expressions. “Timothy, that is what you are to your people. You are my expression, my example of the Christian life to them.” Then Paul defined six areas in which Timothy was to prove himself an example.

First, he is to be an example in word. How many have heard of the Greek word “logos”? And what does it mean? Yes, it means “word.” But according to Arndt and Gingrich Greek Lexicon, it is actually used in 52 different ways in the New Testament depending on the context.  Here it refers to speech, because our speech reflects what is in our heart.

In the transition of Jesus’ ministry from the Jews to the rest of the world in Matthew  12 to chapter 13, Jesus said,

35 “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. 36 “But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. 37 “For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matt. 12:35-37 NKJ)

The tongue is the most difficult bodily organ to control. James wrote extensively on the slippery tongue and all the problems it can cause (Jam. 3:1-12).

Secondly, he was to be an example in conduct, or behavior, which refers to godliness that Paul emphasized in 1 Timothy 4:6-10. Peter used this well with wives in relationship to their husbands.  He described in the context of 1 Peter 2:13,18 and 2:21 “to submit to those in authority.” For example, “servants be submissive to your masters.” He doesn’t say, submit if the master is good, kind or fair. In fact, he highlights that we show honor to God in unfair situations. And in that context, he wrote,

Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, 2 when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear. (1 Pet. 3:1-2 NKJ)

The power of godly conduct is evident in God’s eyes.

Thirdly, he was to be an example in love. Love is an action for the benefit of others. John described this well in His first epistle,

16 By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. (1 John 3:16 NKJ)

We also see love as action in 1 John 4,

10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:10 NKJ)

“Timothy, you’ll have to lay down your life for others.  They will criticize you, tell half truths about you, slap a lawsuit on you, spread gossip about you and reject you, but you must love them.  You may need to stand up to them for the sake of the body, but always do it in agape, or unconditional love.  Don’t run them down.”

Fourthly, be an example in spirit, which refers to the Spirit’s empowerment. Paul explains this so well from Ephesians, when He commands the believers to “be filled with the Spirit” (Eph. 5:18). And the best passage is one which uses four words for God’s power in one verse. Let me begin by reading Ephesians 1:18,

18 the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power (Eph. 1:18-19 NKJ)

Each word represents God’s empowerment. The first word “power” refers to the inherent power available from the Holy Spirit. The second word “working” represents the energizing power of the filling of the Holy Spirit. The word “mighty” refers to the directive power of Jesus Christ ruling in your life. And the last word “power,” (different from the others) refers to the “unleashed power” of the Holy Spirit to bear the fruit of the Spirit of love, joy, peace, etc. This is not power to bench press 500 pounds! This is power to control frustration and anger, forgive offenses and wrongdoings and overlook a multitude of sins. This is power which is seen in grace living through trials and hardship.  How do you know you are living filled with the Spirit or by the power of the flesh?  If there is unconfessed sin, then it’s by the flesh.  If there is disunity with others, discord, bitterness, anger, or indifference, then it’s by the flesh.  You must be consciously dependent on God’s Spirit to be empowered.

Fifthly, he was to be an example in faith. This is active trust or dependence on God instead of what is of the world. Paul said, “Whatever is not of faith is sin (Rom. 14:23).

Sixthly, he was to be an example in purity. This is living a set aside life to God. The world is like an octopus. It will pull you into its grasp and not let you go. John wrote,

15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world– the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life– is not of the Father but is of the world. (1 John 2:15-16 NKJ)

Purity is the outward manifestation of holiness, being set apart for God’s purposes. Robert Murray M’Cheyne, a pastor who died at age 30, famously said, “My people’s greatest need is personal holiness.” Timothy was young, and you might be too. The best way to stop people from looking down on you is to make sure they look up to you.  You must know who you are and your progress must be evident. We’ll look at the rest of the passage in the next couple weeks.

It is not that a Christian can’t lead, but because they have been put down by others, or they have fears of making a mistake, or they just don’t allow God to be God. It is not that they “can’t” lead, but they “won’t” learn how to lead.

2) Train them to know His Word by His Spirit 4:13-14

3) Train them to absorb His Word for transformation 4:15

4) Train them by training yourself 4:16

Here’s the key:

Jesus is our Lord!  He is waiting on leaders to step ahead in joy and lead!

  • Know who you are in Jesus! Forget about what others say if they joke, make cute cuts, put down and take anything away from the gold you are in Jesus. Col. 2:9-10.
  • Pursue holiness and God will use you in great ways in His joy!

Consider Myron Rush, who identifies tough issues facing every Christian leader in The New Leader. We are wise to ponder them slowly.

  • – You must be willing to stand alone.
  • – You must be willing to go against public opinion in order to promote what you believe.
  • – You must be willing to risk failure.
  • – You must become master of your emotions.
  • – You must strive to remain above reproach.
  • – You must be willing to make decisions others don’t want to make.
  • – You must be willing to say no at times, even when you’d like to say yes.
  • – You must sometimes be willing to sacrifice personal interests for the good of the group.
  • – You must never be content with the average; you must always strive for the best.
  • – People must be more important to you than possessions.
  • – You will have to work harder to keep your life in balance than people do who are not leaders.

Paul Borthwick, Leading the Way, Navpress, 1989, pp. 177-178.


Message Based Discussion Questions

1) Have you ever served in a leadership position? What did you like about it? What did you not like about it?

Digging Deeper:

2) Is it important to know who you are? _____________ Why? Did God know who He was? (Ex. 3:14) Why is it important to know who you are in Jesus rather than what you perceive you are (or what others perceive) in the world?

3) Can you think of any Biblical characters who “arrived”? ________________ What Scripture would you use to support your conclusions? (Take Joseph in Genesis as an example. Cf. Gen. 37:3-10; 39:7-9; 41:15-16; 42:30; 45:1-3; 50:18-20. Did he think that he had arrived?)

4) Are there additional characteristics that could be added to the list of 1 Timothy 4:12? ___________________ Which ones would you add if you could? Are they covered in what is listed? How so or how not?

Making application to the message:

5) What are several things someone else at Grace could do in order to grow in the six areas mentioned in 1 Timothy 4:12?

6) How would you disciple someone to grow in the six categories mentioned in 1 Timothy 4:12?

7) Examine the list below. Which of those principles are more difficult than others? Why? (The list at the end of the message)


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