Passage for Study: Acts 17: 1 - 9 … Acts 17 linked for study …
2nd Passage for Study: 1st Thes. 2: 1 - 12 … 1st Thes. 2 linked for study …
My Journal for Today: In these last days, Chuck Swindoll, in his devotional book, Great Days with the Great Lives has been looking at the qualities or character traits of leaders, using these passages from Acts and one of his leters to the Thessalonians to illustrated how the Apostle Paul exemplified the leadership qualites all work or church leaders should exhibit. And in this study we’ve seen Paul exhibit contentment and joy in the midst of trials. We’ve seen him with strong determination and yet exhibiting genuine thanksgiving at the same time. And we’ve seen him have focus, holding true to his main objective of spreading the Gospel, but at the same time having great sensitivity for all to whom God led him to witness.
Today, Swindoll points out one other quality which leaders simply must have; and that character trait illustrated in Paul in 1st Thess. 2: 8 where we read, “ So, affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us.” And as you read that passage, Paul’s genuine love and affection for his flock jumps off the page, doesn’t it? You can also read this quality of affection when you read his other prison epistles, like Ephesians, Colossians, or Philippians, the latter being an out-and-out love letter to those at Philippi. And when you sense this genuine affection for those whom Paul had evangelized, I believe you see just how much Paul had changed after his conversion.
It’s just hard for me to imagine Paul, when he was Saul of Tarsus, the hard-case who persecuted and had Christians stoned, was a leader who loved people at that time. No, he was the man who stood up on a hill and ordered and witnessed the killing of Stephen, the first recorded Christian martyr. But here, in this letter to Thessalonica, we see just how loving and affectionate he had become.
Actually, I identify with Paul’s Spirit-shaped change, being transformed from a hard-case boss to a loving leader. Almost 30 years ago, when I was a hard-hearted agnostic, I did all I could to rip the faith right out from under Christians. I was a loner and simply didn’t like to be around other people, especially Christians who had a love affair with Jesus going on. And here I am now, these decades later, having come to Christ a little over 25 years ago; and now I love being around Christians and yes, even around those who are estranged from Christ (i.e., the lost who hate Christ).
And now I’d fully agree with Swindoll’s plea in his devotional today, as he wrote, ”If you don’t enjoy people, please, do us all a favor, and don’t go into leadership. Choose another career stream. Everyone will be better off.” Swindoll goes on to point out that the world, especially the church, doesn’t need more “bosses.” What we need, especially in the Church, is more “leaders.” And I characterize a “boss” by comparing that kind of leader to Hitler; whereas I picture a “leader” as being one like Abe Lincoln. Honest Abe loved people, even his enemies; and Hitler, ... well, you get the picture!
I pray that we all recognize the need to love others as Christ loved us; and once again if we’re called into leadership, we need to become more and more like our Lord, loving all whom we’re called to lead, just as we’ve seen in the Apostle Paul.
My Prayer for Today: Lord, grow me into a loving leader. Amen