The Catalytic Leadership of Paul (Galatians)

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 two highlights (Galatians):

  • Paul rebuked the Galatians (Gal. 1:6, 4:9, 5:12) and Peter (Gal. 2:11-14) boldly/harshly in defense of those who weren’t yet following Jesus.
  • Paul emphasized that he was mentored (Gal. 1:18-2:1) & mentoring others (Gal. 2:9).
  • Paul reminded the Galatians that we are “blessed by God to bless others” (Gal. 3:8-9).
  • Paul called the Galatians to a new life surrendered to Jesus and producing good fruit/results (Gal. 2:20, 5:4-6, 5:16-26, 6:7-9).
  • Paul’s message came from Jesus and was affirmed by the miraculous (Gal. 1:11, 2:2, 3:5, 3:14).

Questions to consider:

  • Who can we pass along the story of Paul and the principles of catalytic leadership this week?
  • How can we apply what we see in Paul’s life to our own life and leadership?
  • Have you noticed other ways Paul served the people of Galatia in a way unique to their context?
Showing 3 comments
  • John Williford

    1. It is staggering to realize that Paul’s message, which focuses our lens on the message of Christ, is still misunderstood thousands of years later. The message that one has to earn their place in heaven still prevails in our culture today. Even in a secular sense, earning ones place and reaping what you sow is just about as American as apple pie. When we don’t measure up to the perfection (which occurs every single day), we become distraught, down on ourselves, and overly critical. We then convince ourselves that we aren’t working hard enough, we’re being weak, and that all that is required to perfectly follow the Law (God’s law, man’s law, etc) is a solid resolve and a swift response. Christ’s life spits on this message. Over and over, the meaning of Jesus’ life and works proclaim that the law is a burden, given to children to teach, but that will not deliver us from God’s wrath. Paul clarifies that here, focusing on a very important Jewish custom- circumcision. It seems that communities, while wishing to follow Christ, still insist that one must be circumcised and eat “ritually” in order to gain access to heaven. The culmination of Christ’s message, and Paul’s articulation of it, speaks quite the opposite. Christ’s death, His glory, His power, all mean more than man’s inability to be worthy of it. This is why it is a free gift, and trying to earn that gift launches a person into a life of begrudging obligation, in which little reward is found, and true love is missed. In short, Paul’s message should be passed on to those who put their faith in following a law, which includes most people today.

    2. The Christian leader must learn to balance the freedom given by Christ with the responsibility given to leaders. A leader must be blameless, while at the same time communicating his own brokenness to those he or she leads. In each case, the amount of sternness or passiveness communicated by a leader must be contextualized. The leaders message to a congregation of middle-income white persons will be different than a message to a crack-addicted prostitute. In this variation of message however, the meaning must remain the same. Christ died, and you are free. I am broken like you, but follow me, putting your ultimate faith in Christ and His work in me, not in my abilities or intelligence. In our leadership roles, we must proclaim the message of God, but never as if we fully grasp it, or that our leadership can be used to lord authority over others.

    3. Paul speaks personally to the church in Galatia in the 5th chapter. He focuses on different sins- not particularly circumcision or Jewish laws and rites of passage. Corrupt sexual liaisons, witchcraft, jealousy, anger, drunkenness, and others are focused upon here, but Paul gives the same message. (5:18)- But when you are lead by the Spirit (as opposed to being lead by a Law) you are no longer subject to the law. When being lead by the Spirit, one is then able to become free from the above-mentioned sins. The sins should be avoided and defeated in the heart of the sinner, but this is done through Christ’s work, not the law. We must communicate to those in our care that, yes, drunkenness and sex before marriage will harm us, but our actions have no bearing on our relationship with Christ and our salvation.

  • Jordan Zehr

    Who can we pass along the story of Paul and the principles of catalytic leadership this week?
    – For me, it’s been through a new job. A few of the people I work with are great leaders and some of them are seeking Christianity or have a relationship with Jesus but are still caught in ways of the world. Knowing the ways that Paul led in Galatia and how he even rebuked gives me a sort of confidence to be bold with some of my co-workers, especially those who I know go to church yet can get caught up in the normal of working in the world.

    How can we apply what we see in Paul’s life to our own life and leadership?
    – Being bold in situations where I should be. My new boss goes to Gateway and she’s a really nice lady, but there are times that I see her old self clashing with her new self. We have great conversations at work and even outside of work, it’s a good balance of work relationship and friendship outside of work. This makes me lead in a bold way with her outside of work to push her to something greater than what she knows now.

    Have you noticed other ways Paul served the people of Galatia in a way unique to their context?
    – Paul speaks with a certain gentleness to them. Looking at the terminology he uses such as dear children, brothers and sisters, etc…I see a care for the people of Galatia that Paul has deeply rooted in his heart/spirit. So while preaching a Gospel of love and grace and turning away from the things that held them down in previous years, he comes with that same love and grace and a longing for them to have something better.

  • Sonja DiNanno

    I love the exacerbated way Paul reacts to the church. I imagine him saying emphatically, “Hey guys, wake up! You don’t have to kill yourselves trying to be perfect anymore! That was the whole point of Jesus coming! Relax, love each other, and stop worrying about who is or is not circumcised! Nobody cares!!! That’s not how this works, that’s not how any of this works!
    Paul addressed the people in a unique way to their culture. He took a very blunt, stern and even aggressive tone with them to try and combat the legalism. He knew they were ruled by the law so he tried to help them understand how the gospel and the law fit together and that the law and the gospel were not opposed to each other. He quoted scripture that they were familiar with in support of his point and used examples from their lives. As a believer today I can easily forget how completely radical Jesus’ message was to them. It completely changed all cultural norms and behaviors. There was an uncertainty in how to proceed, people who never even spoke to each other were now understanding that they are all equal under Christ and they were actually showing this to be true in their actions!
    I teach kids ages 3-9 and we just finished a month all about Paul. It was interesting how his story impacted them. Little ones can be especially sensitive to the rules or the law. They typically share the question, “If I do something bad, does that make me bad?”, “Will I still be loved by God and my parents if I do something bad?” It’s all too convenient for teachers and parents to use the guilt and concern for the loss of connection to control and coerce kids into following the rules. Much like the Pharisees did with the people. But I believe we miss a huge opportunity if we go that route. Paul is saying that everyone is worthy if they believe, that your acceptance is not tied to what you do or don’t do. It’s because of who God is, not about who we are. God does not change his feelings toward us or take away our inheritance because we are “bad.” I want all my kids to understand that God’s love and relationship are not contingent on us following the rules or being good. That even when we mess up because we all do, our value and relationship are not in jeopardy. How amazing would it be for kids to get this understanding at an early age?
    I’d like to apply some of Paul’s techniques in the way I lead. When the Galatians were struggling, he first reminded them of his testimony, of what they have seen God already do. He calls for unity and reminds people that they do not have to be holy in their own strength but can tap into the strength of Jesus.

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