A Catalytic Leader (Lessons from Paul)

“The Conversion of Saint Paul” by Caravaggio

This fall I am going through the stories and letters of Paul in chronological order with some our network leaders at Gateway. We are trying to determine the characteristics that made him so catalytic so that we might grow in this as well.

We are looking for the ways Paul sensed the moving of God’s Spirit in the following ways:

  • Miraculous methods of guidance
  • Performing miracles
  • Discovering receptivity and accepting suffering
  • Pursuing God and His righteousness
  • Reaching out to others and empowering others

Here is the order we are reading through and discussing:

Here are some of the Week One highlights:

  • Saul heard Stephen share the story of God and later shared the same story.
  • Saul saw Stephen killed and personally persecuted the church.
  • Persecution was needed for the church to advance through the message of those who were following Christ (rather than the apostles).
  • Saul came to Christ in a miraculous way, but he seemed to focus more on the message than the miracles.
  • Luke and Paul wrote half of the New Testament even though they weren’t part of the 12 disciples (a reminder to us that you don’t have to be one of the 12 disciples to make a significant impact).
  • Paul was invested in by Ananias and Barnabas and the apostles.
  • Paul trusted and submitted himself to his leaders.
  • Paul invested in others as he was on mission (“on-the-go mentoring”)
  • Paul advanced the church further than anyone at that time in history, but he was not alone.
  • Paul was not a superhero nor a great speaker, but he was fully surrendered to Christ.
  • The early church worked through conflict in the context of a trusting community.
Here are some questions to consider:
  • From Acts 7-16, what do you notice about Paul that made him catalytic?
  • What can we apply to our own service and leadership?
  • Have you noticed ways Paul served the people in a way unique to their context?
Showing 3 comments
  • John Williford

    From Acts 7-16, what do you notice about Paul that made him catalytic?
    – Paul speaks many languages, literally and figuratively. He is able to adapt himself to many different situations, and his knowledge and skills serve him greatly in his mission to catalyze the gospel first to Jews, and then to Gentiles. Simply put, Paul forces his way into situations where a violent proclamation of what he believes is necessary. Whether it’s challenging occult magicians like Bar-Jesus, or debating with Jewish authorities over minute details of the Torah, Paul becomes all things to all people by translating the gospel to different, varied cultures. His explicit language, coupled with his catalytic implicit actions, communicate the gospel in an extremely effective way.

    What can we apply to our own service and leadership?
    – We must be careful, like Paul, not to narrow our communication of the gospel to our own demographic. In western culture, the church has largely ignored this pitfall, and largely preaches the truth of Christ to white, middle income, family units. While this is certainly needed, the church leaders of tomorrow must adopt a holistic approach to preaching, teaching, and serving. Minorities, the poor, and criminals all desperately need the love and truth Christ teaches, and the Christian leader must learn to speak the languages of those demographics that don’t fall into the “typical church crowd”.

    Have you noticed ways Paul served the people in a way unique to their context?
    – Paul served different cultures differently. To the Jews, Paul was at home. Paul knew the ins-and-outs of Jewish law and culture because he had been immersed in it all his life. To challenge Paul’s knowledge of or devotion to Jewish scriptures would have been nonsense, so Paul deals a strong hand to his Jewish audience, proclaiming the gospel in synagogues.
    – He does not use the same tactic in dealing with occult magicians. He doesn’t debate with Bar-Jesus about whether or not Roman gentiles could enter the kingdom of God. He simply becomes frustrated with the magician, and strikes him blind. Here we see that Paul doesn’t always prefer to painstakingly debate the gospel with others; he uses a heavy hand as well. This probably communicated the power of the gospel more effectively for Sergius Paulus.
    – Paul also uses love to communicate. When he is imprisoned in jail for his testimony, it soon becomes clear that the Spirit is going to let him free. His chains are loosened, and the bars are thrown open, and Paul has an easy escape laid out for him. The Roman guard in charge of his cell despairs, and plans to commit suicide. Paul could have easily escaped, paying no attention to a gentile Roman soldier. Instead, Paul tells the Roman not to go through with it, and that he will not run away. After speaking with him and visiting the Roman’s home, Paul brings another person into the kingdom of God through nonverbally communicating love.

  • Jordan Zehr

    From Acts 7-16, what do you notice about Paul that made him catalytic?
    – I think one of the greatest things often overlooked is the conversion of Paul. In Acts 8 we see him as Saul, the persecutor of Christians. But through a radical conversion he then becomes Paul who takes a year and preaches with Barnabas in Antioch. Paul used his conversion as a tool to then lead others to Christ.

    What can we apply to our own service and leadership?
    – Paul had a radical conversion and one that led him to be the bringer of the Gospel to the Gentiles. He went with a faith that could only come from total turnaround from a previous life and because of that conversion, he never looked back. I think that many of us sometimes get caught up in our own missteps and weaknesses that we forget that those can be used for such a great story. Paul once persecuted and killed people for believing in Jesus, then through his conversion becomes one of the greatest authors and theologians of the New Testament.

    Have you noticed ways Paul served the people in a way unique to their context?
    – Paul serves with a lot of boldness which is something I noticed in Acts. His boldness heals, admonishes when necessary, and also allows him to preach to many people.

  • Sonja DiNanno

    “A catalytic leader is someone who can communicate across organizations and sectors to inspire a new way of working that will achieve the community’s highest aspirations.” Jay Connor

    1.What do you notice about Paul that made him Catalytic?
    His conversion story right from the start would make multiple groups of people interested in him and want to hear what had changed in him. His testimony was effective in most groups he traveled to. Everyone knew who he was before he had an encounter with Christ, and then he was blind for 3 days. When Ananias prayed for him he was healed. Having a powerful testimony can gather people to listen. He traveled many places preaching the good news of Jesus. I think the message of hope and justification for everyone who believes in Jesus inspired people to become a Christian, and continue to grow. The biggest factor that made him an amazingly effective communicator was his surrendering to the Holy Spirit. After he regained his sight, the Bible says he was filled with the holy spirit and scales fell off his eyes. He spent a few days with the disciples and then “at once” began to preach in the synagogues. Several times we see Paul move to another place because the Holy Spirit told him to leave.

    2.What can we apply to our own service and leadership?
    The standout quality that Paul had was his connection and complete obedience to the Holy Spirit. This allowed him to reach people without having any training. He was also able to immediately and accurately assess each situation he was in and reacted appropriately. That can help us in our own service and leadership by reminding us to keep connected to the source!

    3. Have you noticed ways Paul served the people in a way unique to their context?
    Paul used several approaches in teaching people about Jesus. In Cyprus, he went to the Jewish synagogues to teach about Jesus. He met the people where they were and did not expect them to come to another place to hear God’s message. Another time, Paul ran into a sorcerer who was trying to deceive people. Paul quickly and severely shuts him down and blinded him for a time.
    For the synagogue rulers in Antioch who knew the scriptures, he taught quoting Psalms to prove the foretelling that Jesus would arise again. In Iconium, where the Gentiles were being lead astray by the non-believing Jews, Paul spent extra time there speaking and teaching the message of Jesus and using miracles in order to help them understand and believe the message of Christ. In Lystra, he healed a crippled man and had to convince the people that he was not to be worshiped but that all the power came from God.
    Then at the end of his travels, he revisited the places where there were new Christians and spent time teaching them and disciplining them. He also shared more testimony of what had happened on his travels to further encourage and build up the new believers. In each place, he visited Paul adjusted his approach and reaction to the people he was trying to reach.

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