This past fall we went through the stories and letters of Paul in chronological order with some our network leaders at Gateway. We were 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 other highlights of Paul’s message to the Colossians:
- Paul seemed to have support from his family (Acts 23:16).
- Paul made mistakes such as going against the Spirit’s direction (Acts 21:4).
- Paul looked for those who were open to spiritual conversations rather than continue with those who were closed-minded (Acts 28:23-28).
- Paul was a leader in every setting. We should look to help leaders in business find faith. They will be effective leaders in ministry as well.
- Paul prayed the Colossians would be filled with knowledge, live a life worthy of the Lord, bearing fruit, strengthened with all God’s power, etc. because “he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness” (Col. 1:9-14).
- Paul demonstrated that just as followers of Jesus were saved “by grace through faith,” we should live “by grace through faith” (Eph. 2:8-9, Col. 2:6-7).
- Paul encouraged those he influenced to share their faith with others (Philemon 1:6).
- Paul had authority yet “appealed to others’ better nature” (Philemon 1:8).
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 Colossae in a way unique to their context?
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1. Paul hits on something very subtle in the beginning of his letter to the Colossians; this is something we should pass onto others who desire to be catalytic leaders like Paul. In the first chapter (verse 5), Paul subtly declares the origins of the faith and love that Christians should display. It doesn’t come from works, from seminary, or from working very hard to be a good person; it comes from hope. The hope that awaits us in heaven generates a faith and a love that can be seen by others, and while this point may go unnoticed, it is absolutely central to the message of the Gospel. Why do Christians persevere? Why do they clock in each and every day, believing in a God that the world has chosen to reject, has nearly forgotten about? Because of the hope we have in heaven. “It is men and women that have hope for the next world that do the most for this one,” – C.S. Lewis.
2. Paul also emphasizes suffering, and is sure that he’ll receive much more of it. This is a theme that we should pass on to others who desire to lead- not that we’ll get sent on mission to the underground church in China, then kidnapped and tortured, but….maybe. Each Christian, while not seeking suffering, must be prepared to deal with it, whether it’s bodily harm or emotional abuse. In our western culture, the latter is usually the case, however it is much lessened by the relationship Christianity has with government. Because of America’s protection of churches and “Christianity”, it is difficult to picture Christians being persecuted physically here. What we must ask ourselves is- what happens when that’s no longer true? This probably won’t happen in this lifetime, but are we ready, like Paul, to undergo intense suffering for the Gospel? The answer is probably no, but Christ empowers us to undertake it. Paul shows that it is our job to expect it.
3. Paul, for the people in Colossae, explains that his sufferings are for them. Not for their approval or happiness, but to provide an example and a reason for fighting. He explains how huge the battle is ahead of him, but that it is worth it- many will be comforted and knitted together because of the sacrifice. He also calls them to disbelieve others with quick tongues and intellects- while a person may sound smart and persuasive, Christians can know them by their fruits. Paul cautions against this, and tells the Christians here to journey with God to allow Him to shape their lives.
Who can we pass along the story of Paul and the principles of catalytic leadership this week?
– The importance of praying for those we are walking with. Paul is in prayer for those of Colossae in a way that draws him to them through the writing of letters. He encourages, admonishes, and teaches them new ways even though they are going through a tough time.
How can we apply what we see in Paul’s life to our own life and leadership?
– It makes me want to reach out and encourage those that I live life with and lead within the church, knowing that life is always going to throw us something that challenges us and our walk. Knowing that someone is praying for you and is there to listen/guide can be reassuring.
Have you noticed other ways Paul served the people of Colossae in a way unique to their context?
– Not so much Colossae but Philemon jumped out more to me. Paul could have commanded them because of his authority but instead he appealed to their own nature. I think as leaders we can really learn from this and instead of telling someone to do something to make them grow, we can present it in a way that appeals to their better nature and let them make the decision for themselves.
Why did Paul not listen to the disciples who “through the Spirit” told him not to go to Jerusalem? Why did he not listen to the prophet Agabus who also told him not to go? The Bible says both messages were from the Spirit. Paul has had such an incredible track record of listening to God and following everything he was told. Why now did he not listen? I wonder if he was growing tired and just did not want to prolong the inevitable end of his life? Or maybe he did not obey because God did not tell him directly? Or maybe because the message from Agabus was only telling him that he would be captured but not specifically, “do not go?” It must have been something like this because why after everything would he not obey? I wonder if Paul allowed himself to be captured too early, and what God’s perfect plan would have been had Paul be obedient.
Everywhere Paul went he was respectful of the culture and their belief system. In Acts 23 he is being questioned in front of an angry mob and the high priest ordered for him to be hit. Paul insults the man not knowing he was the high priest. But when he heard the people around him react in shock at his insult he quickly apologizes to the priest and then speaks to the mob in their native language of Aramaic. As the Jews persecuted Paul, he went from one courtroom to the next telling his testimony and spreading the gospel to one king after another. Such an amazing way that God used what was intended for evil for good! Paul recognized that this was going on, and he willingly accepted being in chains and jail so that he would have access to these people and could tell them about Jesus.