Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Friday, 4 June 21:
2 Corinthians 11:5, 6 — “But I do not think I am in the least inferior to those ‘super-apostles.’ I may not be a trained speaker, but I do have knowledge. We have made this clear to you in every way.”
Similar to many today, the church in Corinth was being led astray by dynamic, impressive, talented teachers who were falsely preaching “another Jesus” for their own personal gain. They were “rock star” preachers who were wolves in sheep’ clothing. Jesus said that the discerning would recognize false prophets by their fruit, and Paul says the same thing, as humbly as possible, comparing his own fruit to theirs.
Paul is a great example of real leadership, a man who had earned the right to lead and, as opposed to false teachers, had true “knowledge” required for leadership which can only be obtained through the Holy Spirit and from genuine experience and practical application:
Paul preached the gospel free of charge. How many leaders do you know who lead without reward? Paul gave to others but did not take; his leadership was not burdensome. Paul was motivated solely by love, and he did not direct attention to himself but rather to Christ.
Paul’s leadership was gracious, gentle, patient, and enduring; in fact, Paul even questioned whether he was too gentle (2 Corinthians 11:21). To those who are easily enamored by self-confident superficial “leadership,” Paul’s meekness was perceived as weakness, but Paul warns others not to be deceived.
Paul could match credentials with anyone, but he did not consider credentials or pedigree to be the measure or qualifier of leadership but rather Holy Spirit empowerment along with sacrifice and suffering in love for the cause. Paul had put his life on the line countless times for Jesus and often endured without even food or water. All the while in the face of many pressures and temptations, he remained holy and faithful – he did not falter, and his character was unblemished. Despite his shining character, he did not boast in himself but rather boasted in Christ and was quick to point out his own sins, flaws, and weaknesses in order to reveal the Grace of God in his own life. (2 Corinthians 11;28-32)
Consider the popular preachers and leaders today: how many live like Paul? How many “gifted speakers” have been raised up to “super-apostle” status? Take a moment to be introspective. Do you lead like Paul? Have you paid the price to lead? Thousands of years ago, Sun Tzu once remarked that great generals are never honored or noticed because they don’t fight great battles – they win quietly, behind the scenes so that the “great battles” are never required, and they don’t have egos that demand the recognition that comes from spectacular (avoidable) victories. The irony is that greatness is not glamorous, most will miss it. Case in point, in the time of the reign of the mighty Herod, whose kingdom’s ruins still stand prominent today, our Savior was born in a manger — “For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” (Isaiah 53:2) Today, the only thing most people know about Herod is that he killed countless babies trying to destroy Jesus. But the One who was not esteemed is our Savior!
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 4 June 21: Lead others today by denying self, taking up your cross and following Jesus. Leaders know the way and show the way. Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Him. (John 14:6) If you aren’t leading others towards Jesus, you are leading them astray.