The Proximity Leader
Time and distance have a tendency to dilute effective leadership. Paul had made a huge investment in the church in Thessalonica but was forced to leave abruptly. Even as he writes this epistle, it was neither safe nor prudent for him to return. But there was another leader that he was confident enough to send in his place.
Wherefore when we could no longer forbear, we thought it good to be left at Athens alone; And sent Timotheus, our brother, and minister of God, and our fellowlabourer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you, and to comfort you concerning your faith: That no man should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto. For verily, when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulation; even as it came to pass, and ye know. For this cause, when I could no longer forbear, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter have tempted you, and our labour be in vain.
1 Thessalonians 3:1-5
The Priority of Your Presence
Paul was concerned about the stability of this church. Persecution prevented him from investing his presence with them as much as he desired . There are times when circumstances simply will not permit a leader to be as thorough as prudence calls for. As a leader, you have probably felt this dilemma. The apostle does the next best thing. He sends a trusted leader that he has been mentoring. Timothy is sent to comfort these young believers.
Don’t be fooled by the word comfort. There is no implication that these believers needed pampering, although we could understand if they did. There was great persecution of believers in this city and we know that any encouragement would be welcomed in these circumstances. However, there is more to it than that. The Greek word translated as comfort, parakaleo, means to come along side.
Nearness is Likeness
Effective leaders don’t simply tell someone how to do it, they come along side and demonstrate. They observe, guide and refine as they instruct, mentor and train others. This is impossible to do from a distance. Someone has to be near. Perhaps you can’t be there personally but over time, you should be preparing others who can be an extension of yourself and be close to those who are learning and growing.
Thankfully, Timothy returned with a good report. The fledgling church was standing strong in the faith. Timothy’s visit added strength and reinforcement to the progress that was already taking place. Neglect could have left room for weakness and discouragement to settle in. A sense of abandonment and lack of further instruction and encouragement might have opened doors of doubt, heresy or weakness. Forsaken, this church might have soon faltered. Timothy’s visit was timely and profitable. The presence of qualified leadership is essential to positive progress.
Get A Little Closer
Is your presence felt in the company you lead? Do those who serve you feel your sense of concern and involvement through your presence? Mom & Dad, your greatest investment at home is your presence. Pastor, do you look in on the Sunday School classes with a smile? Do you meet with your staff and volunteers on a regular basis to inform, encourage and engage? Have you trained others to assist you in this process?
Personal contact is a powerful part of leadership. You have to come along side those you lead. Your presence is a powerful influence that will produce long lasting results. You must be that contact whenever possible but when you can’t you must have someone else who can. You may not need to look over their shoulder constantly but your presence can be a powerful encouragement to those you lead. When done properly, your presence invests your team with a sense of importance, achievement and vision that is irreplaceable.