The Bible and Leadership: FaithfulnessDownload Study
Capitol Ministries’ long-term objective is to plant 50 ministries in 50 state capitols in addition to fostering ministries in local city and county governments throughout our nation. We are deliberate about this intention because we believe that not only is such a goal essential to the fulfillment of the Great Commission, but it also fulfills one of our nation’s greatest needs in terms of good governance. To paraphrase a famous William Penn quote, good governance flows from good hearts. Accordingly, CapMin is intentional about achieving these ministry outposts—not only here in D.C. but at every level of the career path of a public servant. To be clear, our objective is not to change our form of government. Our republic must remain institutionally separated from the church. Our goal is to build up in Christ the men and women who administrate our government.
It follows that we purpose to facilitate more men and women in public office who are mature in Christ—governing authorities who have not only the courage to fight the right battles but also the strength, faithfulness, and perseverance to go the distance. This goal can only be achieved by maturing them in Christ. In John 17:17, Jesus said, Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. We need strong Bible teachers, evangelists, and disciple-makers at every level in the career path of public servants.
To those of you who read these Bible study notes in Washington, D.C., we thank you for faithfully opening doors in your state capitols! Your partnership is so helpful and effective! I wish space would allow me to thank more personally those of you who have partnered with us in this way. You have been such good friends!
Paul, too, had such good, faithful friends. One was Tychicus—a man so faithful that Paul trusted him with the most important of tasks. Paul asked Tychicus to travel over hundreds of miles of perilous journey to personally deliver some of Paul’s original letters—the original autographa of Scripture! Why? Like you, he was reliable and trustworthy in his partnership. Let’s drill down on this character quality in this study.
Read on, beloved.
I. THE FACT ABOUT FAITHFULNESS: FULFILLMENT
Near the end of his letter to the Ephesians, the Apostle Paul conveys some personal comments about Tychicus, his close friend and partner in ministry. From this narrative passage, we can glean important insights into the matter of faithfulness. In Ephesians 6:21–22, Paul is writing from his Roman imprisonment far away from the church at Ephesus that he had founded as recorded in the book of Acts. He states the following:
But that you also may know about my circumstances, how I am doing, Tychicus, the beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, will make everything known to you. I have sent him to you for this very purpose, so that you may know about us, and that he may comfort your hearts.
The phrase I have sent is most accurate to the Greek, but note that in reality Tychicus had not been dispatched until after Paul wrote this letter, right? So how do you explain this seemingly anachronistic statement? Paul (writing in Greek) is employing a tense known as the “epistolary aorist.” This tense is used when the writer desires to put himself in the place of the reader. Accordingly, and more importantly to this study, note that Paul calls Tychicus faithful in the previously quoted passage.
When we hear the word faithful today, our attention is often drawn to the context of marital fidelity. For sure, that is an accurate understanding of the biblical word usage. But as used here and illustrated in the life of Tychicus, the character quality of faithfulness has a broader application. Stemming from the Greek word pistos, it means “trusted” or “reliable.” In contrast, apistos means “untrustworthy” or “not worthy of another’s confidence.” Theologically, faithfulness is a fruit of the Spirit fully bequeathed by the Holy Spirit to and upon every believer at the point of salvation (cf. Galatians 5:22–23). Therefore, faithfulness is a possessed quality by every true believer, a characteristic fruit of genuine followers of Christ, but one that nonetheless needs to be continually honed, matured, and developed in the sense of our progressive sanctification.
Characteristic reliability in our vertical relationship to God, as well as horizontally in our relationship to ministry partners, is a requisite, indispensable quality that assures both great communion with God and dependable reliability by others, equating to the consummate active and efficient fulfillment of God’s Great Commission mandate.
As noted, Paul was writing from prison in Rome as indicated by the preceding passage in Ephesians 6:20. Therein the passage begins with I am an ambassador in chains.… There he penned what are commonly referred to as the Prison Epistles: Ephesians, Colossians, Philippians, and Philemon. An interesting note serving the purpose of this study is that many commentators believe that Paul wrote Colossians in close proximity to Ephesians, so that the Colossian epistle would also be delivered to Colossae by Tychicus. Colossians contains an epistolary aorist passage similar to the one under study.
As to all my affairs, Tychicus, our beloved brother and faithful servant and fellow bond-servant in the Lord, will bring you information. For I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know about our circumstances and that he may encourage your hearts; and with him Onesimus, our faithful and beloved brother, who is one of your number. They will inform you about the whole situation here (Colossians 4:7–9).
Each passage from the two epistles refers to Tychicus as a faithful man and indicate that Paul, who was unable to go because of his imprisonment, had sent Tychicus as an apostolic emissary to these churches on his behalf. How could Paul write in Philippians, Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel (1:12)? Paul could only write those words because of, in part, a faithful teammate like Tychicus!
Paul’s situation necessitated faithful, trustworthy ministry teaming in order to fulfill the Great Commission.
Part of God’s sovereign orchestration of Paul’s circumstances serves to illustrate for the reader of the New Testament (NT) his mature ability to effectively discern and wholeheartedly trust in another. In this case, his trust had been placed in a fellow worker, one who over many years had proven himself to be absolutely dependable. As such, Tychicus serves to personify the following passages:
A wicked messenger falls into adversity, but a faithful envoy brings healing (Proverbs 13:17).
Faithful people elicit positive outcomes in a myriad of ways.
Like the cold of snow in the time of harvest is a faithful messenger to those who send him (Proverbs 25:13a).
Having many ministry partners myself in California’s San Joaquin Valley, where much of our nation’s fruit is grown, it doesn’t take long to learn that every packing shed immediately chills freshly harvested fruits and vegetables from hot summer orchards in order to preserve their contents. Solomon, writing the above Proverb, uses an agricultural analogy in this case to beautifully portray the value of a messenger’s preserving and protecting the contents of that with which he has been entrusted. In both instances, the object of value remains unchanged and is preserved for consumption. Such a person, Solomon describes with the word faithful.
Note the summation of Tychicus’ character quality of faithfulness as illustrated by leading Ephesians commentator Harold Hoehner:
Later in his second Roman imprisonment, Paul sent Tychicus to Ephesus to relieve Timothy in order that Timothy could come to Paul (2 Timothy 4:12), and Paul sent either Tychicus or Artemas to Crete to relieve Titus so that Titus could visit Paul in Nicopolis (Titus 3:12). Tychicus, then, bore five [NT Bible books] letters (Colossians, Philemon, Ephesians, 2 Timothy, Titus) and probably relieved two of Paul’s apostolic legates. It is no wonder that he was called a “beloved brother and faithful servant of the Lord.”
Servant, diakonos, emphasizes the activity of the servant and, in this case, signifies faithfulness in his activities for the Lord.
The fact is, Tychicus’ faithfulness led to the fulfillment of the Great Commission in the first and second century.
The first mention of Tychicus is in Acts 20:4. Of Asian descent, he had been chosen by Paul to take the relief offering to Jerusalem. Therein was the start of a beautiful relationship; Tychicus was not only faithful, but this passage informs us that he was also available and teachable. Tychicus possessed three key ingredients for being used mightily by God.
II. THE FORMATION OF FAITHFULNESS: FRIENDLINESS
Next, let’s observe one particular means Paul used to evoke such high levels of faithfulness, availability, and teachability in others: opposite of a military-culture chain of command, Paul, in the institution of the Church, was collegial with those who served him and those whom he deemed his partners.
Having Paul as their leader, his followers gained a sense of personal value and importance, the sense of being on an equal footing.
Can that be said of you in your leadership style?
Paul says of Tychicus in this study’s passage, the beloved brother and faithful minister. What exactly does this first aspect of the statement mean? Commentator Edward Earle Ellis says:
In this context the term “brother” means not so much “fellow Christian” (though Tychicus was obviously this, and the term has this meaning in v. 21) as [it does] “co-worker” or “helper.”
This comment is significant. In the world of ministry, Paul didn’t make people refer to him in some sense of hierarchical superiority; he didn’t insist on nor enforce personal titles. Rather, he had a collegial, friendly relationship with those whom He discipled—even though he personified apostolic authority. His leadership style was not one of pulling out the org chart continuously. To do so even today is to telegraph personal insecurity with those whom you are leading.
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines collegial as “marked by power or authority vested equally in each of a number of colleagues.” I realize some problems can arise over time with this leadership style. A certain level of disrespect and license can come to those in authority, but such problems have more to do with the immaturity of those under a collegial boss than the leadership style of the boss. Nonetheless, common friendliness is an indispensable biblically based component of effective leadership (with its inherent risks) that aids in developing faithfulness amongst peers serving not only in ministry but also in office.
Motivation in work and ministry are enhanced when everyone on the team senses ownership and equal importance in achieving the task.
I hope you sense collegiality and friendliness in and from me as we attempt to launch and mature effective ministries not only in state capitols but in the thousands of local city and county government offices throughout America. I count each of you as strategic partners and peers in our joint monumental effort to help create a movement for Christ amongst our nation’s governing authorities—from the start of office to the highest positions in office.
While the practice of friendship is no guarantee of developing faithfulness in another, it can certainly help. States Paul in Philippians 2:3b, regard one another as more important than yourselves. Tychicus could be counted on to complete the smallest tasks and the most difficult. He was doctrinally solid and represented Paul well, being void of disloyalty, undermining comments of disrespect (cf. 1 Peter 2:18), and gossip. Paul took notice of those qualities, and as a result, God used Tychicus mightily in His kingdom work.
Taking this concept a step further, Paul had his personal weaknesses (cf. Romans 7) as we all do, and we know that collegiality requires transparency and thus a risk of vulnerability. It follows that Tychicus could have exploited Paul’s foibles and undermined or damaged his leadership. Instead Tychicus was characterized by grace and not rigidity in his demeanor, skill, and dispatch in and throughout his personal relationships. Undoubtedly, he was mature in this regard, having earned Paul’s highest level of trust. Keep in mind the enormous significance of this level of trust:
Tychicus was deemed seasoned enough to transport portions of the original New Testament!
Even today characteristic collegiality and grace foster and result in the building of trust with one another and consequentially our effective teaming together in the fulfillment of the Great Commission. Unfortunately, the shortage of such grace has resulted in many Christian leaders who are not friendly to those who work under their leadership—having been burned by others. In contrast, may our partnerships in ministry and in life in general always be characterized by abundant grace.
You, the many public servants in our D.C. Bible studies—White House Cabinet, Senate, and House Members—are wonderful grace-filled, effective, powerful partners in ministry! In faithful ministry partnership, you are as responsible for Capitol Ministries’ many successful ministry launches in America and throughout the world as are Danielle or yours truly. Your gracious spirits make for mature, fruitful friendships and an ensuing synergy to fulfill the Great Commission amongst political leaders around the world! What follows are further insights into faithfulness.
III. THE FOUNTAIN OF FAITHFULNESS: A FACET OF GOD
Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass. (1 Thessalonians 5:24).
But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one (2 Thessalonians 3:3).
To grow in Christlikeness means we must grow in God’s attribute of faithfulness. Let’s become increasingly and amazingly more like Him in this area of our lives! May it be said of us as Jesus said of Paul:
I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service (1 Timothy 1:12).
IV. THE FOSTERING OF FAITHFULNESS: FREQUENCY
Faithfulness must be cultivated and developed continually throughout our lives. In contrast, the Evil One is un-faithful and will continually tempt you to be unfaithful. The following passages depict the personal discipline of cultivating faithfulness.
And not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation that did not prepare its heart and whose spirit was not faithful to God (Psalm 78:8).
“He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much” (Luke 16:10).
We should be strict with ourselves to be faithful in very little things: frequent, small victories become mental imprints to developing lifelong responses of faithfulness in the bigger spheres of life. Francis Schaefer used to say to those of us who lived in his Swiss chalet in Villars, Switzerland, “Did you clean behind the toilet?” (House guests who came to live and learn at L’Abri had to do homemaking chores.) And the point of his frequent interrogation? Only God knows if you’ve cleaned behind the toilet! You must learn to be faithful to Him when no one else is watching—that is, if you expect to be used by Him in ways significant.
V. THE FRUIT OF FAITHFULNESS: AFFIRMATION
We have learned that biblically speaking, faithfulness is an intricate, key character quality that God is looking for in those whom He will use most significantly. It follows that faithfulness is something public servants should ascertain not only about themselves, but also about those they consider for hiring or promoting. With that thought in mind, let us lastly turn our attention to the following passages that indicate the biblical connection between faithfulness and God’s reward.
A faithful man will abound with blessings, but he who makes haste to be rich will not go unpunished (Proverbs 28:20).
Then I put Hanani my brother, and Hananiah the commander of the fortress, in charge of Jerusalem, for he was a faithful man and feared God more than many (Nehemiah 7:2).
And the Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and sensible steward, whom his master will put in charge of his servants, to give them their rations at the proper time?” (Luke 12:42).
I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service (1 Timothy 1:12).
The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also (2 Timothy 2:2).
I have purposefully repeated I Timothy 1:12 here in my outline because the verse is so profoundly insightful and sums up this Bible study. All of the above passages serve to affirm God’s sense of importance regarding your and my faithfulness. These passages serve to indicate strongly that God rewards this quality if He finds it in you and me!
I have noticed over several decades of ministry to public servants how those who are faithful to represent Him boldly and lovingly while in public office, generally speaking, are rewarded by God! Do you seek His affirmation of your service in office? Are you faithful to Him for His having placed you in office? Is that the way you think about it? Then be faithful to His calling, His precepts, and His people!
Do you believe He is the One Who ultimately placed you in public office—or is it because (you think) you’re so smart?
Your answer to that will largely indicate your faithfulness to Him while in office.
Tychicus was a man who was faithful to God and to others. Subsequently, God blessed and strengthened him. Paul noticed his faithfulness and entrusted him with the most important of tasks: personally delivering original autographa of Scripture over hundreds of miles of perilous journey! Why? He was deemed faithful—reliable and trustworthy! Are you deemed faithful both by God and your peers?
May these words be said of us as we team to plant ministries amongst public servants throughout America and the world! Keeping the main thing the main thing while serving in office redounds to everlasting dividends in your account to and for His glory!