This letter is from Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus, appointed by the command of God our Savior and Christ Jesus, who gives us hope. (1 Timothy 1:1)
Andi (not her real name) was 17 when I approached her one Sunday and asked her to be part of our leadership development team. Shyly she looked at the ground and quietly said, "Oh...I'm not a leader..."
I tried to encourage her, saying the leaders had many different gifts and personalities. "I see you as a potential leader", I said. Why not just come and try it out?"
In writing letters to churches and individuals, Paul often began by referring to Himself as Apostle. It was a big deal. "Apostle" was as high as you could climb on the church leadership ladder.
So why keep telling everyone? Was Paul on some ego trip, trying to impress people with his credentials?
No, I think firstly he needed to establish his right and responsibility to lead and make some pretty tough calls in his letters.
But perhaps too the use of this title was a reminder to himself of who he was. Rather than use his title to boast, I suspect he used it to keep himself humble.
Why? because immediately upon mentioning his title he adds "appointed by the command of God our Savior and Christ Jesus". Paul knew that leadership was not something he'd earned through being amazing! It was a role given to Him by God and as such he had a responsibility to "be who he is" - to act like the Apostle he was.
Like Andi (and like me) the knowledge of his calling and who called him "gave him hope".
So what is your "title"? What is God calling you to do?
If this blog post has found it's way to you (and it has!) it's because someone has looked at you and sensed that you're a leader (at least "in the making"). You may not feel like it and you may be consumed by doubts and insecurities but God is calling you to be who you are! For some, that may involve a long hard look at the way you're living - is your conduct worthy of your calling?
For others, you need to stop focussing on who you think you are and start courageously being who God is calling you to be.
With some encouragement, Andi agreed to assist in the Sunday school, helping children do their crafts. The following year she started helping in our intermediate programme and then in our youth programme.
The following year she was our youth ministry intern!
It's taken a while but at last she's begun to see herself as she really is - a leader. She is still a little shy and somewhat hesitant still to be up front, but knowing who she is, according to God, has given her the hope to follow His lead.
Say to yourself, "(Insert your name here), you're a leader appointed by the command of God our Savior and Christ Jesus, who gives me hope." Say it again, but this time look at yourself in the mirror. as you do. (I mean it - get up and find that mirror!).
What do you feel when you say that? If you're filled with pride ask God to humble you. If you're filled with self doubt and inadequacy, good! You've taken the first step to being used by God as a leader. Now tell Him you're willing to be used in leadership in whatever way he chooses and ask Him to fill you with hope.
[First published at http://youth.cccnz.nz]