Paul does again, as he has already done in this letter, in that he turns from critiquing the false teachers to encouraging Timothy to be different. In these six little verses he uses three sets words to pack a comprehensive charge to good leaders.
First, there are the four instructions or actions: Flee, pursue, fight, and take hold. Timothy (and we) is to flee the ways of the false teachers just described. Instead we are to pursue the six qualities of good leadership. We are to “fight the good fight.” And finally, we are to take hold of, or maintain a firm grip on our calling-commitment-charge-command.
Righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. There is no and here, making this a list of six separate things, and in some ways it could be read as three pairs of words. However, what stands out here is what these things we are told to pursue are not. There is no mention here of things we would think of as qualities of leadership. There is nothing about our ability to lead; nothing about the size of our congregation. Instead we have these qualities that are downright boring in today’s pastor-as-CEO culture. Paul wants church leaders to be practicing the qualities of faith, hope and love. It seems that the leadership stuff will take care of itself if our character is right and godly.
Finally, Paul tells Timothy (and us) to hold onto our ministry, which he describes four ways. We have been called to eternal life. We have committed ourselves to a task in front of witnesses. We are charged before God, and compared to the only person whom we should hold up as an example, Jesus Christ. And finally, we are commanded. We have been commanded to follow Christ’s example and leadership. Specifically, we have been commanded to love God, love others, and make disciples.
It is nothing particularly exciting or flashy, but that is the nature of Christian leadership. Steadfastly sticking to the basics is what it is all about.