The Imperfect Leader is Perfect

1 Timothy 1:12-17 says: 12 I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength to do his work. He considered me trustworthy and appointed me to serve him, 13 even though I used to blaspheme the name of Christ. In my insolence, I persecuted his people. But God had mercy on me because I did it in ignorance and unbelief. 14 Oh, how generous and gracious our Lord was! He filled me with the faith and love that come from Christ Jesus. 15 This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”—and I am the worst of them all. 16 But God had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in him and receive eternal life. 17 All honor and glory to God forever and ever! He is the eternal King, the unseen one who never dies; he alone is God. Amen.

One thing that fascinates me about the Bible and always has is how different it is from other historical texts from the same era, or really, just about any era. In average historical texts when you read about the kings and leaders they sound more like Gods than humans. They are amazing, they are wise, they are handsome, and those leaders are basically perfect. However, when you read the Bible even the greatest and most faithful leaders like David are flawed and make terrible mistakes. All leaders are human. All leaders make mistakes. It is just that those that wrote about the mistakes of the kings and leaders of those times probably ended up on the chopping block.

As leaders, we can try to project the perfect image. We can try to curate what other people think and say about us, our leadership, and our organizations but the truth is, we can’t hide the truth. We are human and we are not perfect. Paul certainly didn’t try to project an image of anything other than the truth! Paul is very honest with Timothy about his own leadership credentials. Paul was not a good man and persecuted Christians. He was a terrible sinner and he makes that very clear. He also made it clear that leadership starts with God’s grace. Paul says, “The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly” (1:14). Paul doesn’t see himself as being particularly qualified or deserving but as a result, he is a perfect example of the power of God’s grace!

We may not be as flawed as Paul but Paul should be an inspiration to each of us as leaders. Paul became one of the greatest and most influential leaders of all time and He did it through the power of Christ working within Him and through the grace of God. I believe that we all have the potential to be good leaders within the context God places us in if we too accept the gift of grace and trust in the Lord to guide us. Grace is the foundation of our faith. It is also the cornerstone of our ministry and leadership. Our ability to lead comes through grace and requires grace. Nothing we do is deserved or earned. All of our blessings come through grace and God’s unmerited favor. We need to recognize this both in times of fear and angst over our ability to effectively lead and also in times of success when we feel the temptation to take credit for our excellent leadership!

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