October 7, 2022 • Life for Leaders
Scripture — 2 Timothy 2:15
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved by him, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly explaining the word of truth.
Read all of 2 Timothy 2 here.
A pretty good description of the life of discipleship we are all called to follow as workers who do not need to be ashamed is this: Trust Jesus. Practice the spiritual disciplines. Care for others. Be prepared. Don’t add to the amount of conflict in the world, but bring peace to warring factions. I think we could still use people who do all those things today—don’t you?
A few weeks ago, when I was writing to you about 1 Timothy 1:15, I mentioned the importance of the pastoral epistles (1 and 2 Timothy and Titus) to my grandfather. He was a Methodist minister, author, and seminary president, and his first book, A Workman That Needeth Not to Be Ashamed, was based on lectures he delivered in 1956 that were inspired by 2 Timothy 2:15.
The book was addressed solely to clergy—honestly, in 1956, to male clergy—and, at first glance, appears only to be a manual for how to be an effective and spiritually healthy pastor. We need those, of course. But I went back and reread parts of it in preparation for writing this, I discovered it was actually a pretty good manual for Christian leadership in general.
This was my grandpa’s advice: serve your vocation, study the Bible and the best of human wisdom, pray frequently, be accountable to others, plan effectively for the visions you undertake, care for those entrusted to you, encourage healing and wholeness, and be aware of current events and apply Gospel wisdom to them. That’s certainly what all of us here at Life for Leaders try to do. I suspect that those of you reading this who are in positions of leadership try to do those things as well.
2 Timothy 2:15 forms part of a long list of pastoral instructions which Paul gives Timothy. Like my grandpa’s advice, it appears at first to be addressed to Timothy in his position as a church leader (Timothy later became Bishop of Ephesus and no doubt found it useful) but turns out to be really applicable to the rest of us. Be strong in Christ and trust in his grace, Paul writes; share in the suffering of others, don’t get involved in “wrangling over words,” avoid “profane chatter” (by which he seems to mean gossip) and controversies, and pursue “righteousness, faith, love, and peace” (quotations drawn from 2:15, 2:16, and 2:22-23).
If you put my grandpa’s list and Paul’s list together, I think you come up with a pretty good description of the life of discipleship we are all called to follow as workers who do not need to be ashamed. Trust Jesus. Practice the spiritual disciplines. Care for others. Be prepared. Don’t add to the amount of conflict in the world, but bring peace to warring factions. I think we could still use people who do all those things today—don’t you?
Where are you strong in the items on this discipleship list?
Where do you need the grace of Christ to help you become stronger?
“Day by Day” (see below) has long been a prayer used in the church, and in the 1970s it was famously set to music in the musical _Godspell. Listen to the original cast recording and ask God to help you to be his disciple as you pray.
Day by day, day by day,
O, dear Lord, three things I pray:
to see thee more clearly, love thee more dearly,
follow thee more nearly, day by day. Amen.
(Attributed to Richard of Chichester, 13th c.)
Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project’s online commentary. Reflection on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: Guard the Tongue (2 Timothy 2:14–26).
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Jennifer Woodruff Tait (PhD, Duke University) is the editor of and frequent contributor to Life for Leaders. She is also the managing editor of Christian History magazine and web editor for the Theology of Work Project, and a priest in the Episcopal Church. She has written a book of poetry, Histories of Us. Jennifer lives in Berea, Kentucky, with her husband, Edwin, and their two daughters.
Click here to view Jennifer’s profile.