We are all leaders in many areas. And even to our friends informally. Leadership is unavoidable. But how do we know whether we are taking our responsibilities seriously?
The Bible is a manual for life and therefore it comes as no surprise that it has a lot to say about leadership directly through letters of Timothy, Titus, Ephesians and 1 Peter. But interestingly enough the overwhelming instructions are indirectly by people who modelled godly leadership leadership. One good example is Epaphras, the church planter of Colossae. Here is what Paul had to say about him in at the beginning of his letter to the Colossians :
You learned [the good news of Jesus] from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf, and who also told us of your love in the Spirit. [1:7-8]
Just in case they forget by the time they finish reading the letter, he adds this another line about Epaphras towards the end:
Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured. I vouch for him that he is working hard for you and for those at Laodicea and Hierapolis [4:12-13]
Reading these two "book end" observations about Epaphras from Paul reminds us that a key them of Colossians is reassurance. Not just reassurance about who Jesus is and the genuiness of their faith in Jesus, but surprisingly reassurance that they have good leadershipAand they must not cast these leaders aside for those who want to ursurp their authority and are bringing wrong teaching. So what can Epaphras teach us about quality leadership, especially in under threat?
First, leaders must be servants. Epaphras was a servant of Jesus (doulos). A slave to his master! Paul says "Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus". Jesus was his ultimate boss! True leadership puts Christ first! Only when we serve him first can we truly serve others! This is a challenge to all of us. Are we totally sold out to Christ in how we work? How much is our work is truly Christ shaped?
Notice that Epaphras was not a lone ranger! He was a the consume team player, serving along Paul eveto prison! True leadership is always outward looking rather than inward! It puts others before the self! It means looking out for the interests of others instead of our own. It means not leave others to do dirty work. It means not being glory hunters! But rather we seek to be a servant of Jesus in every area God has placed us.
Secondly, leaders must be prayerful. Epaphras served through prayer. He was constant and persistent in prayer ("always wrestling...for you")! His prayers were personal and intense. He put his heart and soul in praying! Epaphras knew that God was ultimately in charge of everything. Apart from God, he could nothing! What did he pray for? That his fellow Christians may know God's will in every situation & stand confident in it. Not worrying!
True leadership is accomplished on the knees before it is accomplished on the desk! Are we constantly praying for those we manage or report to? Or are our prayers at in our vocation and home "me" centred?
Finally, leaders must work hard. Epaphras put in the hours for Jesus Christ! Paul vouches for him. That speaks volumes about him! Epaphras not only worked hard for his immediate responsibility (Laodicea) but far and beyond (Hierapolis)! True leaders pray hard and work hard! There's no room for laziness in the Christian life!
How hard are we really working? Are we always finding excuses for not doing thing? Christians who underperform do a great disservice to God's reputation. We are ambassadors of Christ! We need to ask God to enable us to actively develop and maintain an attitude of hard work as we work and lead in all areas of our lives!
Lessons from Colossae : Identity (1:1)
Lessons from Colossae : Status (1:1)
Lessons from Colossae : Faithfulness (1:2)
Lessons from Colossae : Faith (1:3-4a)
Lessons from Colossae : Love (1:3-4)
Lessons from Colossae : Hope (1:3-5a)
Lessons from Colossae : Good News (1:5b-6)
Copyright © Chola Mukanga 2014