“Archippus?! What’s that! I didn’t even know I had one.”
Before you get too excited, I should warn you that this post isn’t about a neglected muscle or strength training secrets. It is, however, about a leadership essential and how you can do it more effectively with unsung heroes in your ministry.
Archippus isn’t a “what” ‒ he’s a “who.” Though the New Testament only includes his name two times, his presence is significant. In Philemon 1:2, the Apostle Paul highlights this member of Philemon and Apphia’s household (likely their son) as a courageous contributor in God’s Kingdom. Then, at the end of his letter to the church at Colossae, Paul intentionally passes along this timely instruction:
Tell Archippus: “See to it that you complete the ministry you have received in the Lord.” (Colossians 4:17)
Is Paul’s encouragement familiar to you? He instructs Timothy and Titus, two renowned pastoral protégés, in similar ways in 2 Timothy 2:5. Apparently, Paul wanted the Colossian believers, the first century network of churches, and the entire body of Christ to know once and for all that Archippus ‒ an unsung hero of the faith ‒ had a God-given job to do and it should not be overlooked.
Without needing additional context or details about Archippus’ assignment, you can be sure of one thing ‒ you’re responsible as a leader to build up the unsung heroes around you so they can fulfill their ministry!
God has entrusted you to invest in people whose names and ministries will never be widely known. Here are five ways to build them up more effectively.
- Whom have you commissioned?
You didn’t become a leader by accident. Your face was unfamiliar and your name was unknown, but someone took a risk, called you out and invested in you. This is the heart of disciple making; and, this is Paul and Archippus’ story too. In the same way, God has used you to commission unsung heroes for meaningful ministry. What are their names? Take time to intentionally remember who you’ve commissioned and keep a running list so you can keep building them up.Why does their work matter?
Archippus had a mysterious ministry mandate. All we know for sure is that he had one, it was God-given, and it was his responsibility to follow through. While we don’t have specifics, Paul and the Colossian church leadership likely knew the ins and outs and the gravity of “Mission Archippus.” You have similar scenarios in your span of care as a leader. As you build into unsung heroes, be clear with them and those around you about what they are doing. Who will it affect and how? What will it accomplish for the greater good? Keep bringing everyone back to why your Archippus’ ministry matters.
- What encouragement do they need?
I’m a big fan of the phrase, “Stay the course,” and often sign-off this way on cards and notes to other leaders. These words have the ability to lift spirits and challenge people toward faithful follow-through without revoking responsibility. Imagine how Archippus felt when he heard Paul’s affirming and encouraging words. If you want to keep unsung heroes in the game, you need to help them fight fatigue, hold them accountable for slacking off, and honor them for staying the course. Build into every Archippus you encounter by encouraging him or her in a way that’s most meaningful to them.
- How can you bring them support?
Every leader needs a boost when he or she feels depleted or discouraged. It’s unclear if Archippus was off-track, but Paul’s letter reveals that he definitely wanted him to receive an affirming word both from a distance and face-to-face. Which unsung heroes in your organization want you to invest in them directly versus indirectly? More than that, who needs a verbal thank-you, a strategy session, an infusion of resources, an additional team member, or an unexpected day off? Get creative as you build into each Archippus so they feel supported specifically, and specifically by you.
- When will you remind them you care?
Paul chose to communicate his concern for Archippus in one simple line at the end of a very important ministry letter. It wasn’t much, but he didn’t forget and it packed a punch. The only wrong time for you to let unsung heroes know that you care is when it’s too late. It’s also important to discern when care should be expressed publicly or privately. Honestly, your decision to invest in behind-the-scenes influencers could be what tips the scales from failure to success, from tossing in the towel to faithful follow-through. Remember, “when” you build up an Archippus is as important as “how.”
You are (or once were) an Archippus in the grand landscape of leadership. It’s time to invest, or reinvest, in the unsung heroes God has entrusted to your care. Get moving on the five principles in this post so you’re always ready to build up the Archippus-like leaders in your organization or ministry starting today.