The other day I had the privilege of attending our monthly Precept meeting at our leader, Vasile Filat’s home. It was a pleasure to hear all of the testimonies from the different workers in the Gospel, ordinary people who serve the Lord with all of their hearts. Some are teachers, others are coaches, still others are business people yet all of us has the same thing in common, our relationship with God through the Lord Jesus Christ which gives us a passion for the people around us.
While there, we studied Paul’s example in Romans 15 about how he served the Lord. I would like to share some of the principles with you via this article. I want to thank my mentor, Vasile Filat for teaching this lesson and being an example of living it out, daily.
First of all, it will be of great help if you read the passage and then we discuss the principles step by step. Romans 15:14-33.
I. Paul knew his specific calling and planned accordingly
Paul knew that he had received a specific calling from the Lord. He answered that calling and God revealed His specific plan to Paul. Paul, before receiving his heavenly calling from God, sought after position. He was fervent in seeking out Christians to persecute them, helping him rise in the ranks of his religion. In his zeal for position, he actually began working against God. This can happen to people if their priorities are messed up and they serve the Lord in order to attain a position. Once Paul had an encounter with Christ, his life and priorities were changed. He stopped seeking a position and received his calling and position from God. He does not view his position as a burden but as a gift from the Lord. The opportunity to serve people and take the Gospel to unreached people was a gift, not a duty. He was privileged to be on God’s team. Sometimes, ministers act like God should be pleased, even happy because they chose to be on God’s team. Paul’s attitude is the right one. As servants of God, we must view our calling and position as a gift, a privilege from God.
Paul’s calling and vision were very specific. He did not just have a general calling and he did not just sit around waiting for God to reveal His will. When he encountered Jesus, he realized what his calling was and began to serve accordingly. Paul knew that his mission was to take the Gospel to the Gentiles. Until him, the Gospel was concentrated among the Jews and Gentile converts to Judaism. Paul saw the scope of God’s will and vision.
Paul also knew what he was supposed to do when reaching out to the Gentiles. He was not called to give a simple Gospel presentation and then move on. He was called to make disciples, as all followers of Jesus Christ are called to do. He wanted to proclaim the Gospel fully to the Gentiles. Fully proclaim means to explain in great detail, or, in other words, to explain the process of being and making disciples. The fact that a person has become a disciple and is learning God’s full plan is seen through the fact that he is obedient to God in word and deed. He is learning and applying. Paul made sure that when he taught people the Gospel, he made sure that they understood God’s entire plan for them and for the world. He made disciples as Jesus did. Paul did not leave a place until the people were obedient to God and able to reproduce by making other disciples.
Paul had a very specific plan for working and he shares that plan with us in this passage. He planned things ahead of time and worked according to his plan. Paul had fully proclaimed the Gospel from Jerusalem all the way to Illyricum (modern day Albania, Bosnia, Croatia, parts of Serbia). Once reaching the end of his planned out areas, Paul began to plan on the future. He knew of the church in Rome and wanted to visit there on his way to Spain. The Gentiles of Spain had yet to hear the Gospel and Paul wanted to go there. Even though the church in Rome was closer to Spain than Paul was, he did not judge them because of their lack of vision. Instead, he shared his vision with them and invited them to join him in proclaiming the Gospel in Spain. Paul planned out a new route and contacted the people in advance, so that they could help him in his endeavor. This leads to the next example, the fact that Paul understood how to collaborate with other believers, with other ministries.
II. He collaborated well with others
Paul knew his vision and his plan. He also knew that he could not do it all on his own. Paul was not interested in taking credit for other people’s work. He did not feel threatened by other people’s ministries because he had his own calling, vision, and plan and no matter what was going to stay on track. Many times, leaders do not like to collaborate because of egos and jealousy, or even fear. This was not a problem with Paul because he understood that he was just a servant in the Lord’s field and that in the end, God is the One who gets all the credit and glory because of success. In order to collaborate well, Paul shared his accomplishments, not to brag but to give God the glory and to motivate them to work with him. After sharing his accomplishments he then presents his vision for the immediate future and challenges them to join in with him in extending the Gospel to the Gentiles in Spain. Again, he did not judge them for not thinking of Spain ahead of time, even though they were much closer to Spain than Paul was. He shared the vision and invited them to join him. The Gospel eventually made it to Spain and the people were discipled. God ended up with all of the glory and people’s lives were transformed because Paul understood the importance of collaborating with other believers in the ministry. In order for this collaboration to be successful, Paul had to communicate with the Roman church very well.
III. He communicated well with others
I can almost see the church in Rome, the leaders gathering in a church council meeting discussing the news that Paul, the great missionary and apostle is coming their way. They may have been concerned that his ministry would envelope theirs and he would just take over things. Paul was a master leader and he knew the importance of avoiding conflicts when necessary and that is what he did. He wrote to the church in Rome in advance to inform them of his visit. He shared with them that he does not want to take credit for the work that they have done or to take over their work. He announces his intentions, to continue taking the Gospel to the unreached Gentiles, not in Rome because that was their job. He wanted to get the Gospel to the Gentiles in Spain. He communicated his vision and communicated his needs of help from some of the members of the church in Rome. This good communication took the guard down and allowed the collaboration to take place which strengthened and encouraged the Roman church as well as extended the Gospel to the Gentiles of Spain. God ended up with all the honor and glory and all were satisfied.
In conclusion, an outline about Paul’s leadership principles:
- What is Paul’s specific service?
- Servant of Christ among the Gentiles
- He wants to teach them the Gospel so well that they will be a living sacrifice, pleasing to the Lord
- He wants the Gentiles to be obedient to the Lord
- What or who gave Paul this position?
- God gave it to him
- It is the grace of God
- He sees his service as a gift from the Lord
- What did Paul accomplish?
- Jerusalem to Albania
- He fully proclaimed the Gospel
- How did Paul collaborate with others?
- He does not try to enter someone else’s work and take credit for it
- He helps the other believers
- The believers worked together, Gentiles and Jews
- He involved others in his work
- He gave his vision to others
- He does not claim credit for the work of others
- How does Paul communicate with others?
- He writes to them
- He shares his accomplishments
- He shares his vision
- He shares new opportunities
- He contributes to the spiritual growth of others
- He does not criticize
- He avoids conflict
- What are Paul’s leadership principles?
- His vision is his life
- He is dedicated to his service
- He is serious about the ministry
- He does not take credit for the work others
- He searches for places where the Gospel has not been preached
- He helps where he can when he can
- He finishes what he starts
- He knows when to say yes and when to say no
- He has a plan and works according to the plan
- He involves others in the ministry
- He does not seek his own glory
- He works himself out of a job
- He plans out the future very well
- What are the incorrect tendencies that people have today?
- Steal disciples from others
- Lack of communication
- Church not active in society
What kind of leader are you, my friend? Are you like Paul? I have a few application questions that I would like you to answer honestly.
- What are the principles that you lead by?
- What principles are missing in my ministry?
- How does my collaboration with others contribute to the furtherance of the Gospel?
- What changes do you need to make according to what we learned today?