Being and Becoming Christian Leaders
Here is the scenario. A church was born in an area of great spiritual need. Evil activity was everywhere and has even made it into this church. The church had a hard time standing on it’s own without the help of many other churches. It became self focused, relying on the funds of others instead of developing the mindset of giving back to others who helped them, much less giving to new churches who were in need as they were in the beginning. When leadership stops by to visit and encourage, out of love and care, only a list of more financial needs was presented. Signs of evil lurks among the believers. If the needs are not met, then the church maligns the character of the leadership who is trying to help them. Discouraging?
Paul, the passionate pastor, who cares for all Christ-centered churches has spent years investing in the lives of the people. He has traveled, worked to pay his own way, and has been beaten and thrown in prison for preaching Truth in the Person of Jesus Christ, In this next passage he speaks open and honestly. We feel his heart of passion. We also feel and understand his troubled heart and the lack of appreciation by the church for his love and care for them. But at the end, Paul realizes where his strength really comes from…and it’s not from the appreciation of others…REAL strength in our weakness only comes from God’s powerful, all sufficient GRACE.
Read all of Paul’s honest declaration to the church in Corinth (and to us) in 2 Corinthians 11 and 12 to grasp the full flavor of what he declares as “foolish” indulgent thinking. We see Paul as human…like us. He struggled. We struggle. Because we care.
After reading then meditate on this all day long…
2 Corinthians 12, The Message
1-5 You’ve forced me to talk this way, and I do it against my better judgment. But now that we’re at it, I may as well bring up the matter of visions and revelations that God gave me. For instance, I know a man who, fourteen years ago, was seized by Christ and swept in ecstasy to the heights of heaven. I really don’t know if this took place in the body or out of it; only God knows. I also know that this man was hijacked into paradise—again, whether in or out of the body, I don’t know; God knows. There he heard the unspeakable spoken, but was forbidden to tell what he heard. This is the man I want to talk about. But about myself, I’m not saying another word apart from the humiliations.
6 If I had a mind to brag a little, I could probably do it without looking ridiculous, and I’d still be speaking plain truth all the way. But I’ll spare you. I don’t want anyone imagining me as anything other than the fool you’d encounter if you saw me on the street or heard me talk.
7-10 Because of the extravagance of those revelations, and so I wouldn’t get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan’s angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me,
My grace is enough; it’s all you need.
My strength comes into its own in your weakness.
Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.
What do we learn?
–Focus of Christ and what He can do through us.
–Quit focusing on what we can’t do, but what God does in us.
–God’s promise to Paul is for us…”My grace is enough” and His grace is all we need.
–God’s strength escalates and propels from our weakness.
What is our “handicap”? What do we consider our weakness or hindrance? Does it push us to our knees? Or does it cause us to feel under appreciated and humiliated to the point of doing nothing for Christ? Paul found the source of strength. We can, too.
There’s more to this story…later. Be strong in the Lord today and always!
Dear Heavenly Father, We have not been physically beaten but know the feelings of being under appreciated for passionately caring about people and wanting only Your best for their lives. Paul speaks openly and honestly, like a prayer of crying out to You and You answer him with, “My grace is enough”. Thank you for this encouragement to us this morning. Thank you for your grace. Thank you for your strength to carry on.
In Jesus Name, Amen