I would like to continue the theme of leadership based on the Apostle Paul’s ministry to the church in Corinth. St. Paul was a great leader. He knew how to lead the people and I believe that we could learn a lot about leadership that we can apply to our ministries today. This is the fourth lesson on the subject and if you would like, you can catch up by clicking on these words and reading the previous articles. Here is a quick review of the previous article.
- A good leader has a great vision.
- He takes commitments seriously.
- He seeks to spare the people sorrow.
I would like to take a look at II Corinthians chapters 1 and 2. Let’s take a moment to read the following verses that will help us understand Paul’s methods.
23 But I call God as witness to my soul, that to spare you I did not come again to Corinth. 24 Not that we lord it over your faith, but are workers with you for your joy ; for in your faith you are standing firm. (II Corinthians 1)
1 But I determined this for my own sake, that I would not come to you in sorrow again. 2 For if I cause you sorrow, who then makes me glad but the one whom I made sorrowful ? 3 This is the very thing I wrote you, so that when I came, I would not have sorrow from those who ought to make me rejoice ; having confidence in you all that my joy would be the joy of you all. (II Corinthians 2)
I. He does not lord his leadership over his followers. (1:24)
Unfortunately, many times, when a leader gets a following and experiences a little taste of power, he has a tendency to lord his leadership over his people. He goes from being a servant leader to a dictator. He begins to intimidate and bully his followers instead of leading them to action. More than likely, this is not intentional, it just kind of grandfathers in to the picture. The Apostle Paul had a large following yet he did not let that get to his head or his ego. He did not want to bully the people into taking the action he thought was appropriate. He knew what the Corinthians needed to do but he did not want to force them to do it. He wanted them to come to that conclusion on their own. He could have come with the authority of an established and distinguished apostle yet, in order not to sadden the Corinthians and in order for them to come to the correct conclusions on their own, he delayed his coming and wrote to them instead, preparing the way for his future visit. Many times, as leaders, we see the right decision people need to make and want to force them in that direction instead of gently pushing them in that direction. We must avoid forcing people, even if it is with good intentions. How do you lead your people? Do you force them to do things by lording your power and position over them or do you gently push them in the right direction step by step?
II. He confronts and rebukes but does it carefully not to cause sorrow. (2:1-2)
As I mentioned earlier, Paul had a chance to go and demonstrate his authority but he chose not to do it. He did not do it because he did not want to sadden the people. Paul had to confront them and he had to rebuke them because that is part of being a good leader. He was doing it for their own good. They need to see their mistakes and change but it has to come from them. As a good leader, Paul directs them toward the right choice but ultimately, they have to make the choice. As he leads them, he does not want to bring them more sorrow. He is calculated in his confrontation and rebuking. It is a hard thing to do but it must be done. It must be done keeping the good of the people in mind and their spiritual growth. Confrontation and rebuking can be done with the best intentions and the good of the people in mind but end up causing sorrow instead of spiritual growth. So, as leaders, we must keep all of these things in mind as we prepare to confront and rebuke our people. This requires much patience and determination and is not for the weak of heart. Are you ready to put forth the effort? Are you that dedicated to serving the people as a servant leader?
III. He communicates using the best method that will cause the least amount of sorrow. (2:3)
Sometimes, the best way to begin the confrontation process is to soften the blow before the actual confrontation takes place. Paul chose the best method for his situation, writing a letter urging the Corinthians in the right direction, explaining why he had not come, and preparing the way for his actual coming. Praise the Lord that the Corinthians saw the error of their ways and repented. When Paul did come, it was a celebration instead of another occasion for sorrow. Sometimes, writing a letter can cause more harm because of the way that the letter is interpreted. Paul made sure that his writings would not be misinterpreted. Once again, it is very important to find the best method of communication that brings about the least amount of sorrow. In one case it may be via letter. In another case it may be via some other form of communication. You have to be discerning. God will reveal the best method to you if you really want to resolve the situation and cause spiritual growth.
Are your leadership tactics based on God’s Word? Do you lead the way that the Apostle Paul did? Are you looking to serve the people by communicating with them to cause the least amount of sorrow when difficult situations and misunderstandings arise? How do you confront and rebuke? Do you do it with love, not lording your leadership over the people so that they can see their faults, change, and grow spiritually? May the Lord help us follow His methods of leadership as we lead His people.