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:
- Week One – Acts 7-16
- Week Two – Galatians
- Week Three – Acts 17, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians
- Week Four – Acts 18, 1 & 2 Corinthians
- Week Five – Romans
- Week Six – Acts 19-20, Ephesians
- Week Seven – Acts 21-28, Colossians, Philemon
- Week Eight – Philippians, 1 Timothy, Titus, 2 Timothy
Here are some of the highlights from Acts 18, 1 & 2 Corinthians:
- Paul rebuked the immoral (1 Cor. 5) in hopes of transformation, reconciliation, & forgiveness (2 Cor. 2).
- Paul addressed conflict, immorality, and heresy since these issues slowed down their efforts.
- Paul emphasized the role of every person who follows Jesus to use their gifts and serve as ministers who are competent (2 Cor. 3:6) and who have confidence (2 Cor. 4:1).
- Paul was responding to questions, and used one letter to clarify another letter (a good guide for us – allow Scripture to interpret the Scriptures – See 1 Cor. 5:9-10).
- Paul emphasized living a transformed life knowing that a new life (living by the Spirit) helps expand the message of Jesus (2 Cor. 17-21)
Here are some questions to apply to our lives as leaders:
- 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 Corinth in a way unique to their context?
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– Who can we pass along the story of Paul and the principles of catalytic leadership this week?
In the short passage in Acts, we see Paul grappling and wrestling with Jewish authorities again. We can see Paul’s boldness, and hear his message clearly- he does not contain the timidity of most who try to communicate the gospel. In one interesting scenario, Paul preaches to Jews, and is rejected. Instead of staying for years on end, hoping they’ll come around, Paul simply shakes the dust from his feet and moves on. This is contrary to- how most of us would operate. When faced with opposition, we try to debate, we try and force our opinion and make sure the others “get it right”, missing the fact that it is the Spirit’s job to change the heart. In this scenario, Paul clearly understands the unwillingness on the part of the Jewish community to accept the truth. Paul cannot change this, and so goes to speak to others instead. This story can be passed to those who believe that they can change the heart, or are having problems letting go of a friend who refuses to accept the gospel.
– How can we apply what we see in Paul’s life to our own life and leadership?
In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul rebukes them for petty quarrels. This may seem arbitrary at first, but becomes more important as the Christian considers what damage those quarrels can inflict. Worse than bickering with non-Christians is getting into hot debates with our brothers and sisters and allowing our disagreements to stagnate our mission. This is not to say that disagreements won’t be had, or even that every Christian should be able to work with any other, but rather that when disagreement rears it’s head to make sure that everyone has an equal voice. One group may disagree from another, but when this gets in the way of communicating the gospel to others, then each party must be willing to take a step back and reassess what exactly they are fighting about, if it is true that God truly does not depend on us for His glory.
– Have you noticed other ways Paul served the people of Corinth in a way unique to their context?
The Corinthians get hung up on religion, like most other churches. They disagree with each other, and when they begin to assert their rightness, they draw from whatever god they are attempting to invoke- Paul, Apollos, Cephas, Jesus. Instead of recognizing Christ and His authority, they attempt to set up camp and in turn devolve into just what Jesus preached against His entire life. Paul writes his letter, stating that he’s relieved that he didn’t baptize anyone, and asks if anyone in Corinth actually listened to what he was saying. He rebukes them (strongly- this requires a strong rebuke) and splays out why he is not worthy of worship, and Jesus is.
Who can we pass along the story of Paul and the principles of catalytic leadership this week?
– This is a unique one for me because Paul is rebuking those he loves for a greater purpose and to live in freedom. I see so many of my friends and coworkers who live two lives, but I’m reminded that their sin and mine doesn’t negate us from a loving life with Christ rather it pushes me to want to be better. It encourages me to have those tough conversations.
How can we apply what we see in Paul’s life to our own life and leadership?
– Admonishment is hard, it’s something that is never fun, but it’s also something that must be done and done correctly.
Have you noticed other ways Paul served the people of Corinth in a way unique to their context?
– Paul uses the ways that the church in Corinth is in turmoil to turn it into a positive, although it is through a stern rebuke. He reminds them to use their gifts for good and for each one to use THEIR specific gifts with confidence.
In 1 Corinthians 3:13, Paul gives leaders such an important reminder. I feel this even more acutely as a staff member of a brand new church plant. Everything is new, and I have freedom to develop and implement anything that I want. Paul reminds me that as we build the church, we must be careful how we build. Not to build in our own strength with, “ expensive man made materials” for that will be “burned away!” When Christ comes again, the quality of our work will be tested, the foundation exposed. We could spend our entire ministry building things in our own way and power, and it will not mean anything. This is an urgent reminder to be in constant prayer and communication with the Holy Spirit to keep close to God, so I am building what he intended not chasing the newest fads.
Paul gives a great example of how to handle rejection. When the Jews rejected Paul and his message he did not take it personally. He got up and went to the next place. He did not let rejection stop him. As leaders, if we are not getting rejected regularly than we are not doing enough asking! Asking hard questions, asking believers to take the next step in their growth, asking volunteers to commit, and asking people to accept Jesus. Paul knew that his responsibility was just to tell, to ask and Jesus would handle the rest.
Paul also actively resisted the people trying to make him into a celebrity. He begs for unity, humbling himself and pointing the people in Corinth to follow Jesus, not him. In our day we also have Christian celebrities. I imagine it’s a hard line to walk if you are trying to sell books, curriculum or workshops to remember to point people to Jesus and not work to increase your popularity. Aiding Paul in his humility is his certainty that he is not preaching with his own ability or talent, but knows that it is the Spirit speaking through him. Paul instructs the church to think of themselves as one body. Each part is necessary for the whole to function. He points people not to get caught up in the temporary things of life, to be generous and build each other up. Paul was also not afraid to call out sin. And he addressed how his past letter caused the people to be upset. Paul openly talks about how their feelings were hurt; he apologizes but also points out that the correction did help the people change their behaviors! I love how he addresses the elephant in the room and is willing to have a hard conversation.
Paul served the people in Corinth by working as a tentmaker during the week and going to the synagogue. He did not want to be a burden to the people there, so he paid his own way. When the Jews did not listen to him, he preached to the Gentiles. Paul was afraid and was going to leave but when God told him he was safe, Paul obeyed and stayed for one and a half years with the people. He continued to listen to where God was calling him and even how long he stayed. When he traveled to Ephesus, the people there wanted him to stay longer, but Paul did not feel it was what God was calling them to do so he left. Most of us would have a hard time pulling ourselves away from a group of people who wants us to stay with them. This shows how obedient Paul was.