Being and Becoming God’s Leader
As leaders, we pray for God’s wisdom and plan. We then follow His will as closely as we can. Then, in the middle of the implementation of His plan, God opens our eyes to a better way to accomplish the plan. We make course corrections because of God’s guidance through changed circumstances. Those who look up to us as leaders are instantly not happy with the change of direction or situation. Inflexibility on the part of a lot of us results in a bit of chaos until all is going smoothly again.
Most of us do not like change or any thought of a turn left when we thought we were going right. Fear of change or disappointment in certain events not working out as we had planned cause us to pounce on the leader with instant criticism. If that is not enough to get things to stay “as we have always done them”, we pounce on each other or other outside forces of “evil” without looking within ourselves, being a little bit more patient and flexible, considering first that maybe God might simply have a better way to go about this portion of the journey.
With wisdom and clarity, Paul takes on the critical Corinthians and helps them to underline the basic truth of ministry…to proclaim to the Truth as the Person of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. Paul is that person who believes and proclaims. If that is the proven focus of ministry, then all is good. If we are being and doing what pleases God, then all is good. In the details, count on mid course corrections that allow growth and maturity in all of us. Be flexible. (And don’t mess with passionate Paul!)
2 Corinthians 1, The Message
15-16 Confident of your welcome, I had originally planned two great visits with you—coming by on my way to Macedonia province, and then again on my return trip. Then we could have had a bon-voyage party as you sent me off to Judea. That was the plan.
17-19 Are you now going to accuse me of being flip with my promises because it didn’t work out? Do you think I talk out of both sides of my mouth—a glib yes one moment, a glib no the next? Well, you’re wrong. I try to be as true to my word as God is to his. Our word to you wasn’t a careless yes canceled by an indifferent no. How could it be? When Silas and Timothy and I proclaimed the Son of God among you, did you pick up on any yes-and-no, on-again, off-again waffling? Wasn’t it a clean, strong Yes?
20-22 Whatever God has promised gets stamped with the Yes of Jesus. In him, this is what we preach and pray, the great Amen, God’s Yes and our Yes together, gloriously evident. God affirms us, making us a sure thing in Christ, putting his Yes within us. By his Spirit he has stamped us with his eternal pledge—a sure beginning of what he is destined to complete.
23 Now, are you ready for the real reason I didn’t visit you in Corinth? As God is my witness, the only reason I didn’t come was to spare you pain. I was being considerate of you, not indifferent, not manipulative.
24 We’re not in charge of how you live out the faith, looking over your shoulders, suspiciously critical. We’re partners, working alongside you, joyfully expectant. I know that you stand by your own faith, not by ours.
In verse 23, Paul is upfront and honest. In tears, he writes…
2 Corinthians 2, The Message
1-2 That’s why I decided not to make another visit that could only be painful to both of us. If by merely showing up I would put you in an embarrassingly painful position, how would you then be free to cheer and refresh me?
3-4 That was my reason for writing a letter instead of coming—so I wouldn’t have to spend a miserable time disappointing the very friends I had looked forward to cheering me up. I was convinced at the time I wrote it that what was best for me was also best for you. As it turned out, there was pain enough just in writing that letter, more tears than ink on the parchment. But I didn’t write it to cause pain; I wrote it so you would know how much I care—oh, more than care—love you!
5-8 Now, regarding the one who started all this—the person in question who caused all this pain—I want you to know that I am not the one injured in this as much as, with a few exceptions, all of you. So I don’t want to come down too hard. What the majority of you agreed to as punishment is punishment enough. Now is the time to forgive this man and help him back on his feet. If all you do is pour on the guilt, you could very well drown him in it. My counsel now is to pour on the love.
9-11 The focus of my letter wasn’t on punishing the offender but on getting you to take responsibility for the health of the church. So if you forgive him, I forgive him. Don’t think I’m carrying around a list of personal grudges. The fact is that I’m joining in with your forgiveness, as Christ is with us, guiding us. After all, we don’t want to unwittingly give Satan an opening for yet more mischief—we’re not oblivious to his sly ways!
An Open Door
12-14 When I arrived in Troas to proclaim the Message of the Messiah, I found the place wide open: God had opened the door; all I had to do was walk through it. But when I didn’t find Titus waiting for me with news of your condition, I couldn’t relax. Worried about you, I left and came on to Macedonia province looking for Titus and a reassuring word on you. And I got it, thank God!
14-16 In the Messiah, in Christ, God leads us from place to place in one perpetual victory parade. Through us, he brings knowledge of Christ. Everywhere we go, people breathe in the exquisite fragrance. Because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God, which is recognized by those on the way of salvation—an aroma redolent with life. But those on the way to destruction treat us more like the stench from a rotting corpse.
16-17 This is a terrific responsibility. Is anyone competent to take it on? No—but at least we don’t take God’s Word, water it down, and then take it to the streets to sell it cheap. We stand in Christ’s presence when we speak; God looks us in the face. We get what we say straight from God and say it as honestly as we can.
What do we learn?
–Get the whole story before forming opinions and then be patient.
–Criticism breaks God’s heart and tears down His church.
–Leaders need to talk and walk honestly and wisely, asking for God’s help for every word spoken and deed acted upon.
Dear Heavenly Father, Help us to grow and mature. Let us not stagnate in our own critical spirits and impatience.
In Jesus Name, Amen