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September 13

1 Timothy 6:11-12

11 But you, man of God, flee from these things, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of eternal life to which you were called and about which you have made a good confession in the presence of many witnesses. — 1 Timothy 6:11-12

The Pursuits of a Spiritual Leader

by Norma (JJ) Goldman

Humans naturally crave a personal cheerleader—someone who has absolute confidence in us, who applauds our progress and encourages us to overcome the challenges life often presents. How about you? Is there someone in your life who fills the role of encourager, supporter and challenger?

For young pastor/teacher/leader Timothy, that person was Paul. And who could ask for better? This formidable role model had mentored Timothy over a considerable span of time. Paul knew Timothy well—his strengths, weaknesses, and natural tendencies. Surpassing this knowledge of Timothy was Paul’s deep love for him—love as one would have for an only son.

In his first pastoral letter to Timothy, Paul begins chapter 6 with clear, direct warnings about the pitfalls of human relationships, false doctrines and greed. Having given these warnings, he then turns to the more important issue of things critical to “fighting the good fight of faith.”

I can imagine Paul was smiling at the thought of his son in the faith when he said, “But you, man of God, run from these things.” What a wonderful, encouraging, strengthening address—“man of God!” In three words, Paul gave an assessment of the heart and mission of Timothy! We know that Paul was not a man given to flattery, so for him to make such a statement, it had to be true in his mind and heart.

Reading this good word some 2,000 years after it was written, the clear implication is that if I am to be a woman of God, I’ll need to consider the focus of my life pursuits. Paul spells out the pursuit of “righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.” In stating it the way he did, Paul leads us to believe the issue of focus has already been settled. Timothy had chosen a faith, a way of life and a calling to serve Jesus as a messenger of God’s unfolding story and as a leader in His church.

 We would all agree that righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness are primary characteristics of a born-again believer. “Pursuit” accurately describes where we are in our faith walk, as it did Timothy. We aren’t there yet. But without pursuing these attributes, he (and we) could hardly expect to be a leader. Paul himself had focused on pursuing them, and he knew first-hand that they are easy to write down on paper, yet difficult to live out in real life.

Paul then moves to his second admonition: fight the good fight for the faith. We, like Timothy, are appropriately “armed” to fight as we pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. So learning and practicing these qualities is an essential requirement if we are to fight for the faith that we hold as precious. Stating the obvious, the enemies of our faith are focused, committed, armed and ready to challenge God’s eternal purposes and promises.

Amazingly, our best cheerleader is God’s Holy Spirit—the One who lives in us, encouraging, strengthening and supporting us as we make a good confession of our faith in the presence of many witnesses! How great is our God to provide for us, most often even before we are aware we have a need.

Praxis

  1. Do you recognize your own need of a “cheerleader” as you live out your faith walk? If so, do you recall when you first became aware of this need?
  2. Have you acknowledged in your own heart that the Holy Spirit was sent specifically to meet this need? If so, pause a moment to thank God for the way He provides for you to live out your calling.
  3. List two or three recent events in your faith walk when you were able to call on the Holy Spirit for help and encouragement.
  4. Even though you may not have chosen to be a leader, can you think of situations where it was evident that God had chosen you to step up and lead? Jot down some thoughts about your opportunities to lead.
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