Leading Like Paul - Part 2

Each letter and word of I Thessalonians reveals profound insights into Paul's heart and head, including the introduction. In ancient times it was customary for an author to announce himself and the recipient in the opening line. Verse 1 provides the collective greeting, "Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy." Although these men did not personally author the letter, Paul makes it a point to include them. Their insertion reveals a few things about Paul's leadership. Paul was humble. There is a complete absence of any description of who Paul is and what he does; he even forgoes his customary title "apostle". The non-existence of his self-description reveals that Paul believed his influence among the people was not a result of his background or position, rather it was based on his character, simply being Paul.

Second, Paul valued his team. Silvanus and Timothy are given equally brief introductions. It would be impossible for a casual reader to discern from the introduction who the leader and apostle were and who the followers were. Despite their youth and lack of formal training, Paul treats Silvanus and Timothy as peers and equals.

Third, Paul had a long-term vision in mind in introducing these men as peers. No doubt, he was unable to predict the violence and rebellion that would force his abrupt escape from the city. However, there is a sense that Paul knew his duties in Thessalonica would not be permanent regardless of the church's reception. One of these men would eventually assume the leadership role after he departed from the city. Thus, the introduction establishes Timothy and Silvanus as instant and credible heirs. Because of Paul's forward-thinking Timothy was able to return to Thessalonica and immediately assume leadership.

A good leader is always humble, regardless of the responsibilities, recognition, or accolades that culture bestows upon him. His identity is contingent on his character, not his title. Furthermore, the achievement of the followers and not the leader is the ultimate measurement of success. Far too often, qualified, trained, and gifted men fail to maximize their impact because they prefer to focus on their own progress rather than their followers. They are influence misers, protecting and guarding their contacts, relationships, and power. Paul delighted in the success of those he led. It seemed that he valued it more than his own. His example explains one of the eternal paradoxes of leadership. A leader's influence can only increase once he decides to give it away willingly to those he leads. Therefore, his influence transcended his own and even Timothy and Silvanus' lives. Today "faithful men" (2 Timothy 2:2) worldwide extend the influence of Paul.

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