In Acts 20 I believe we see the secrets for healthy ministry and for healthy leaders. Paul is talking with the Ephesian believers he has served for two years. He says to them “You yourselves know how I lived among you the whole time from the first day that I set foot in Asia, serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials that happened to me through the plots of the Jews; how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house, testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:18-21). First, Paul lived openly before them. Second, he passionately loved them. Third, he selflessly served them. Fourth, he was grounded in the Gospel. Openness, passion, selflessness, and groundedness. These are the ingredients of a godly leader. In this post let’s look at the first quality of a godly leader, openness.
“You yourselves know how I lived among you...” Paul’s life was an open book. He didn’t hide behind titles or learning. He lived so that people could see who he really was at anytime of the day or night.
Believe it or not, I was the perfect Christian until I got married. I mean, I did everything pretty much just right (at least I thought) until I started living with another human being. When I started living with my wife Lisa I began to see the true nature of my heart through our relationship and conversations. Somehow, I hadn’t realized that I wasn’t always a joy to be around. That sometimes, I was lazy, or inconsiderate, or selfish. These things had never dawned on me. So, my bride Lisa knows the real me, and now, years later, my kids know the real me. But if I am careful...if I’m really careful, I can still keep most people in the dark about who I really am. I can smile, and be generous and likeable in public during the week and only let the “real me” out at home.
This was not what Paul did. He lived openly and he showed them who he really was. And in the text we see his heart – he was humble, and he cried tears, and he endured trials. He could not have said he was humble if the Ephesians had seen him as a proud jerk. They would have stopped him right there. And he could not have said something about his tears if they hadn’t seen him shed some over the years. And he could not have cited trials if they had not witnessed any. He could only say these things because they were evident in how he lived.
Living life open to other people can be scary but it is the only way for healthy ministry. And Social media, though helpful at times, is not where we live out in front of people. We are always smart enough to put our best foot forward and make our lives look as interesting as we want them to be on Facebook or Twitter. It is only in honestly living and working with people, face to face, where God can begin to show us who we really are, where we need to repent, and we can learn to become dependent on His limitless grace.
Heavenly Father, help me to live honestly and openly with other people. Help me share my faults and fears so they will see your grace at work in my life. Lord, have mercy on me when I repent of sin against others and lovingly shape me into the image of Christ. Amen.
Photo: © by Charlie Pruitt (taken from, http://www.studiooutside.us/little-free-library/)
Scripture quotations are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.