First Century Skillsets for Twenty-First Century Leadership Excellence
One of my most influential and impactful mentors in ministry drew my attention to a piece of ancient literature that outlined a pattern of leadership skill sets I had not seen in the format he arranged. Dr. Thom Wolf, a global educational entrepreneur and cultural anthropologist, pointed me to an obscure first century letter from a church-starter theologian responsible for writing almost half of the New Testament.
In the second letter of the Apostle Paul to Timothy, found in 2 Timothy 2:1-7, Paul instructed Timothy to select reliable men to entrust Paul’s teaching. Those leaders would also be capable of teaching others. Paul provided three-word pictures or metaphors that seemed to indicate a specific skillset useful in ministry leadership. Dr. Wolf coined this trilogy, “God’s Triple AAA: army, athletics, and agribusiness.”
The first word picture Paul gave Timothy was the solder (army). The focus of the solder was to carry out his mission and to be loyal and accountable to his commanding officer. The good soldier was to leave behind civilian life and focus on serving his army and his commander.
The second word picture is from sports (athletics). The athlete is to focus on playing by the rules of the game if he or she hopes to win.
The third word picture is that of a “hardworking farmer,” who profits from his or her crop. It is not enough to plant seeds, tend to the crops, and harvest them. The farmer wants to get his or her good to market to profit from his or her labor (agribusiness).
I served in the U.S. Army Reserves. My dad and my elder brother were both U.S. Marines. So, I have an idea of what it means to be a good solder. I learned discipline, focus, esprit de corps, and chain of command. I had the privilege of playing sports as a youth, competing in both baseball and football. I learned about exercise, teamwork, and playing by the rules of the game. I grew up in my father’s grocery and wholesale distribution businesses. I learned what it means to have and serve customers, the core of our business. I learned about service, margin, inventory, relational skills, and a solid work ethic. Many of these life lessons were learned by experience rather than books and lectures. Yet, I am grateful for my educational experiences as well.
In January 2023, Henry Jackson, a 32-year veteran at Buckner Children and Family Services was promoted to president of that part of Buckner International's ministry. He is an incredible leader. Many of his life lessons were learned as an athlete at Angelo State University, the NFL, and the Canadian Football League. Take three minutes and read about his story.
If you have served in the military, played sports, or worked on a farm or in a business, chances are you are already qualified with leadership skills needed for ministry.