The Catalytic Leadership of Paul (Thessalonians)

St. Paul Preaching to the Thessalonians by Dore

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 three highlights (Acts 17, 1 & 2 Thessalonians):

  • Paul affirmed the Thessalonians for being a model to other churches (1 Th. 1:7)
  • Paul acknowledged the suffering they experienced and affirmed them for their perseverance (1 Th. 1:6, 2:1, 2:14, 3:2-9, 2 Th. 1:4)
  • Paul shared life with the Thessalonians (1 Th. 2:8)
  • Paul emphasized brotherly love (1 Th. 4:9, 2 Th. 1:3)
  • Paul emphasized the need to encourage and build each other up (1 Th. 5:11)
  • Paul emphasized respecting leadership (1 Th. 5:12-13)
  • Paul emphasized respecting outsiders (1 Th. 4:11)
  • Paul called them to a holy, self-controlled, and prayerful life (1 Th. 2:10, 3:13, 4:2, 5:6, 5:17, 5:21-24)
  • Paul reminded them of their calling from God as seen in the Spirit’s power and the prophecies (1 Th. 1:4, 5:19-26)

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 ways Paul served the Thessalonians in a way unique to their context?
Showing 4 comments
  • Klarahowdy

    i love all of the stories of Paul so much, there are many great advices in there. people should read more of them, and than maybe we could respect each other a little bit more.

  • John Williford

    Who can we pass along the story of Paul and the principles of catalytic leadership to this week?

    I would pass Paul’s example along to those eager to debate apologetics to others. Paul simply does not force his opinions on the Athenians, but rather is able to show, through logic and reason, why God must be real. He doesn’t say, “I saw your sign set up to worship ‘an unknown god’ and it’s blasphemy! Fire and destruction await you all!” Instead, he tells them that they are truly a religious people. He respects their culture. And then he mixed God into it, explaining that the God they are attempting to find is within their grasp. He loves, He cares, and He is glorious. He wants relationship with them, and doesn’t need temples and furniture built with him. I truly believe Paul won more converts with this method.

    How can we apply what we see in Paul’s life to our own life and leadership?

    While Paul is roaming through Thessalonica, he encounters different genres of people. The Jews are comfortable for him, so Paul will usually go to a synagogue first to proclaim the good news: “The Christ has risen! The Messiah has come! God has been faithful to His promise for His chosen!” Of course, not all Jews agree, and mobs are incited to harass Paul. I enjoyed the story of how Paul gets into a debate with the Athenians. Paul didn’t go to a town square and yell, he simply walked around in the marketplace, like any normal person would do, making conversation and meeting people. The people are so intrigued by his wisdom that they request that he share his knowledge. That’s the wisdom I take out of these verses. Standing on a platform and yelling the bible at people doesn’t seem to do the trick. I would rather walk like Paul, meeting people, asking them how they are, and getting to know them. I hope that the people will then become interested enough in what I have to say to actually ask me what I think about God, and human nature, and so on.

    Have you noticed ways Paul served the Thessalonians in a way unique to their context?

    The Thessalonians, at first glance, seem like the model church. Other letters of Paul rebuke churches who’ve fallen off the path, but this letter praises the Thessalonians. In short, they’re doing a good job! Paul praises them and reminds them of the struggles they’ve been through, assuring them that he wants to come and visit, but that he can’t. He assures them of the truth, and tells them to keep the faith. I enjoy Thessalonians because Paul isn’t rebuking people he’s taught- it shows that the church needs to be rewarded and praised when it does well.

  • Jordan Zehr

    Who can we pass along the story of Paul and the principles of catalytic leadership this week?
    – I believe the people who need to hear it the most are the ones that are needing to hear the truth whether that be friends, strangers, family or whomever is laid on our heart. Paul calls them to be holy because they are holy and loved, which is an opposite of what we see a lot in this day and age of people who are so quick to debate and quick to ascribe intent to themselves and become offended because someone has a different view of something.

    How can we apply what we see in Paul’s life to our own life and leadership?
    – Having a gentleness with those who are different than us and speaking truth in love. Also, the way that Paul talks about living in community is specifically important to a new Christian. Those are the ones that need it just as much as we do as believers. We wouldn’t say congratulations here’s a bible, see ya later to them rather we would invite them into our homes, into our friendships and build life with them and share in their growing.

    Have you noticed ways Paul served the Thessalonians in a way unique to their context?
    – In a lot of his previous and even later letters, Paul admonishes for things but he sets the church of Thessalonia on a sort of pedestal when he reminds them of their sufferings and to keep faith.

  • Sonja DiNanno

    Paul led with encouragement and authenticity. This is something we can remember to keep at the forefront of our own leadership style. Paul showed appreciation for the people, he encouraged them and reminded them that God has chosen them. He “never used flattery or put on a mask to cover up greed.” (1 Thes 1:5) He was gentle and worked to earn his own money while he was staying with people. He did not try to sugar coat anything, acknowledging the suffering and persecution they had to go through. He was like a loving, proud parent, “boasting” about the faith the people were showing even through very difficult times. Just like a parent he hated being away from them and worried that his persecution might upset them. He wanted to help them continue growing in their faith. Paul reinforced how they were alike, that he was not above them. That they would all suffer for Jesus. He also got tremendous joy from watching these people come to faith and live out their faith. He tells them repeatedly that they are his, “joy, hope, and glory.” (2 Thess. 1:4)
    Paul went to the synagogue for three weeks in a row. He spent time “reasoning” with them. It was not just a quick 30 min lecture and then him exiting through the back door. He spent considerable time living with them, working with them and engaging them in dialogue. When Paul was in Athens, he went to where the people were hanging out, the marketplace. He knew the Greeks and Gentiles did not go to the synagogue so he took his message to them. He went to where they liked to gather and where they liked to talk about philosophies and ideas. He did not expect them to come into the synagogue to hear him. This is another great reminder of how we need to approach people today. Too often we expect people to come to the church, to find our building and walk through our halls. We need to remember to go out and meet people where they are already congregating and talking. When addressing them Paul incorporated their current religious practices of idol worship, using the idol to “an unknown god” as his launching pad for Jesus. He also quoted their own artists in support of his message. “As some of your poets have said, “we are his offspring.” Acts 17:28.

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