Footholds for Leadership by Brad Cardwell
Paul gave a young church leader named Timothy some great advice and caution in 1 Timothy 4:16. You are probably familiar with verse 12 “Let no one despise you for your youth…” but I think the most potent advice from Paul comes in verse 16…”Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.”
“Keep a close watch on yourself…”
Paul wouldn’t have told Timothy to keep a close watch on himself if he didn’t think that Timothy had the potential to be HIS OWN WORST ENEMY! Throughout Scripture we see this phrase, “Guard your heart” or “watch yourself”. You can’t trust your feelings or your emotions. You CAN’T trust YOU. And the Bible tells us that the only way to guard your heart is with Scripture and with the people of God – the church and the details and particulars of the Gospel.
Let others hold you accountable, whether they are one of your team members or someone at your church. Ask other Godly voices in your life questions like: “Do you think I am walking humbly with God?” (Micah 6:8), “Am I thinking and seeking the kingdom before my own wants and desires?” (Matt. 6:33), “Do I seek justice for those around me that are oppressed?” (James 1:27), “Do you ever hear Scripture out of my mouth and do I seem to have an appetite for the Word and for others to know truth?” (1 Timothy 4:13).
“…and on the teaching.”
If you don’t “keep a close watch” on what you’ve been taught, you will forget it and drift from it, guaranteed. Scripture provides us with many Gospel particulars. Details. Specifics. Principles. Otherwise known as doctrines. These “particulars” help us hang on to the story of the Gospel like a foothold helps a rock climber. The more footholds, the more secure the journey. Just because you sat through the teaching times without falling asleep (well, at least most of you), doesn’t mean that it’s a part of your life. Pay attention to what you’ve been taught and work hard to understand it. Don’t be afraid of the word doctrine. Don’t be afraid to learn and discuss the particulars of the Gospel story. While they may seem insignificant and academic at times, they are what help us “hang on” in this journey of faith.
“… you will save both yourself and your hearers.”
Keeping a close watch on yourself and what you’ve been taught, not only grows your faith in God and His Gospel, but it impacts those around you. The more you pay attention to Gospel teaching and work hard to understand, the better equipped you will be AND those that follow, or listen, to you. Be careful to watch yourself. Be careful to remember what you’ve learned and cling to the particulars of the Gospel. The promise in this passage is that others will be kept in the Gospel when we, as leaders, are paying attention to our own walk and the doctrines of what we teach. A good leader is not just concerned about his own faith, his own doctrine, or just being right. A good leader is concerned about how his own walk and his own doctrine secures the faith of those that follow.