The best investment anyone can make these days is to wisely invest ourselves in others in the body of Christ who will faithfully love and serve long after we’re gone (cf. 2 Cor. 12:19). I recently sat down with a couple of younger men and asked them how can we better encourage future leaders. After all, isn’t this really what “The 2 Timothy 2:2 Principle” is all about? Here are 5 practical suggestions for encouraging future leaders.
1. Be Intentional. Jesus was the master of this and Paul had great skills in this area too. Always be on the lookout for people to encourage in their walk with God. Get specific and personal about ways to encourage them in the present in the hopes that their continued development will glorify God and bless the church even more in days to come (2 Cor. 12:15; Rom. 14:17-19). A word of encouragement, praying with and for them, a gift of a Bible or some other helpful book, etc. can mean much to them and shows intentionality from us. If we lack an intentional spirit today, we’ll find ourselves hurting for leaders tomorrow!
2. Look for Character. Talent and ability are unquestionably necessary for future leaders; however, nothing is more important than godly character (cf. Mark 12:30; Matt. 6:33). Jesus knew Nathanael to be a man in whom there was no “guile” or “deceit” (John 1:43-51). While sinless perfection will not be seen in others, we ought to be looking for godly character, fervent love for the Lord and sincerity. God can do much with that kind of individual!
3. Give Them Many Opportunities to Grow. Take them visiting with you. Get them involved in Bible study with lost souls. Encourage them in areas in which they have ability and can serve. Mentor them with patience and with solid biblical instruction (2 Tim. 4:2). Do not micro-manage them, but help them to be strong in the Lord (Eph. 6:10).
4. Involve Them in Mission Work and Encourage Their Active Participation in Brotherhood Events. Many future leaders I have encountered have been exposed to mission work. They have traveled to foreign countries and cultures and have worked to save and strengthen souls elsewhere. Such an experience almost always broadens one’s perspective. There also are many wonderful yearly brotherhood events like PTP and Focal Point. Such lectureships, seminars, workshops and camps are invaluable in encouraging and refreshing souls. Also, the fellowship is great and opportunities for “networking” abound (cf. Phil. 1:9-11).
5. Understand Diversity – Know Future Leaders Come in Different Shapes, Sizes and Abilities. Paul speaks of this in 1 Corinthians 12:12-26 as he deals with the idea of the church as one body with many different members. Yet the head of the body is Christ (Col. 1:18). Where are the hymn writers, poets and writers, missionaries, preachers, Bible class teachers, elders, deacons and servants of every type in the church? Where are faithful members of congregations who love, serve and build up the body of Christ? The answer is simple – they are right under our noses! It is amazing to think about what God can do when we envision and encourage future leaders (cf. Eph. 3:14-21).