In the book of Philemon, Paul shares four ways we should be leading others. He is appealing to Philemon on behalf of Onesiums and its in that appeal that these principles emerge.
As we lead, we should…
1 – Share Our Faith
v6 – I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.
Anyone in leadership that is trying to lead well wants more knowledge. Leaders want to make good decisions that lead to team victories and increase team morale. Often these victories come from the leaders effectiveness in creating the right environment or process that allows the individuals on the team to succeed. In this verse Paul say that if we are active in sharing our faith that we will “have full knowledge of every good thing…”. What a great promise!
How do we share our faith as we lead? I believe its simply living out what we say we believe in the way we lead. Do we exhibit the fruits of the Spirit? Are we connecting our vision and purpose to God’s word? Are we drawing attention to the teams attitude and effort and how it reflects what we say we believe?
As the leader, we cannot be one person at church and another at home and another at work. We walk the talk and as we instruct/challenge/discipline our team through the filter of our faith in Christ.
2 – Trust God
v8-9 – Therefore, although in Christ I could be bold and order you to do what you ought to do, yet I appeal to you on the basis of love.
If you are in the position of a leader then you can demand actions from your team. What Paul is demonstrating to us in this verse is that although he could demand action (because of his position), he is choosing to appeal to the Spirit that lives inside of Philemon.
The biggest win I can achieve as a leader is to cultivate an environment where each person on my team carries out his/her role not out of duty but out of faith. The goal is to see Colossians 3:23 (whatever you do work heartily as for the Lord and not men) come to life in the work of the team.
A benefit of leading in ministry is that each person on our team is a follower of Jesus. If we are following God’s direction to lead by sharing our faith, then we need to trust God’s work in the person we are leading. Over time if we find that the person is not responding from their own faith, but begrudgingly out of duty or not at all, then we have someone who rightfully needs to be led off the team or out of the organization.
3 – Invest in the Person
v14 – But I did not want to do anything without your consent, so that any favor you do will be spontaneous and not forced.
We see in this verse that Paul is seeking Philemon’s buy in before any decision or action takes place. My own experience has shown me that if I invest time into my team by seeking their input on a particular decision or course of action, then I am more likely to get their best effort in the execution of that decision. Conversely, if I choose to not invest this time into my team, then there will be unanswered questions or confusion or a process that isn’t as good as it could have been with their input.
4 – Serve the Person
v18-19 – If he has done you any wrong or owes you anything, charge it to me. I, Paul… will pay it back.
My team needs to know that I will stand up for them no matter the personal cost to me.
It is clear from this verse Paul is willing to go out on a personal limb for Onesimus. If we don’t think our leader will take a bullet for us then we’ll be slow to do the same for them. If we want to be led with that type of commitment, why would we try to lead without making that level of commitment to the ones we lead?
Leaders must first be servants of those they lead. Securing leadership equity (the latitude to have something done with no questions asked) will only happen if the leader earns it. One way to earn that equity is through serving each individual on the team in a way that lets them know they are not on an island and that they are safe under our leadership.