The Collaborative Leader

Not only was Paul a team builder but he was also an inclusive leader. We often talk about the Pauline epistles as though Paul was the sole author. In fact, he wasn’t. Paul had coauthors to which he willingly gave credit.

“Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

1 Thessalonians 1:1

I, Me and We

In fact, in over half of Paul’s letters to the churches, we find coauthors including Timothy, Silvanus and Sosthsenes. When he wrote to the Galatians, he included “all the brethren which are with me” in his greeting. I know that some may suggest that this was merely Paul including them in a greeting much like the way my wife and I might sign each other’s names on a birthday card. But that’s not what I see in Paul’s leadership. I think it was much more than a token. I believe it carried some weight.

When we read both letters to the Thessalonians we will discover Paul using the word “I” only nine times in contrast to the fifty-one times the word “we” was penned. Once he specifically noted that he was the one speaking with the phrase, “even I Paul.” This would be unnecessary if he were the sole author.

We know that Paul was known for using a scribe due to failing eyesight, so it wasn’t likely him doing the actual writing, though I’m sure he governed what was written. If we pay attention, what we discover is that these letters to the Thessalonians were a collaborative work under the leadership of Paul.

Talk it Out First

Leaders build other leaders and value their input. Timothy was the most frequent coauthor and Paul says of him that he has no one else so likeminded (Philippians 2:20).

Can you picture Paul and Timothy engaged in a discussion about the events in Corinth or Philippi? You don’t imagine that Paul, Timothy and Silas never spoke about the Thessalonians do you? Can’t you hear Paul saying to Timothy or Silas, “That’s a great point” or “good observation?” Why not?

Perhaps during one of those discussions, Paul pulls out a scroll and hands it to one of the guys and says, “Let’s write some of these things down and send it to them.” At the same time Paul was building the Thessalonians, he was also investing in Timothy and Silas (Silvanus).

Mentoring Through Collaboration

Effective leaders will welcome insight and input from the leaders they are mentoring within their church, business or organization. Often they will see things that we might have missed. While we include them, we are strengthening not only our own leadership but building them as we filter and refine their input. Even when you might feel that you don’t need their input, remember that those you are building will grow through the process. The more you utilize others, the more you will discover that they have valuable contributions to make.

I can’t imagine Paul not smiling once in a while as he beams with pride when his son in the faith makes an astute observation that he may have missed. How else would Paul have discovered that Timothy was so likeminded. If Timothy never had a chance to make an observation on his own Paul would never realize his potential. Only insecure leaders feel threatened by collaboration. Effective leaders love to let others shine as they share in the leadership process. When was the last time you saw your team shine through collaboration?

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