Here we are in the third part of our series, 1st Century Leadership in a 21st Century World, looking at how we can be better leaders by studying the examples of Paul and the Thessalonian church. By now, you may be looking around and saying, “Who? Me?? A leader?? You’ve GOT to be kidding!”
But no, friend, I can assure you …. I am not kidding. I’m talking to you … or rather, Paul is talking to you.
Leadership is define on Wikipedia as
“a process of social influence in which one person can enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task”
So let’s break that down …..
A process of social influence Do you have a website or a blog? A Facebook, Instagram or Twitter account? If so, you are engaged in social influence. Check!
Enlist the aid and support of others Do you encourage people to follow you on your social media? Or read your blog or listen to your podcast? Purchase your course, ebook or other product? Then you are enlisting the aid and support of others. Check!
Accomplishment of a common task Are you working to share the message of hope in Jesus through your own unique story and passion? That’s the common task we are accomplishing. Check!
In today’s environment where way too many people get their news and develop their opinions based on social media, we ALL have the opportunity to be leaders in the common task of advancing God’s kingdom. And that is why we, as leaders, are called to a higher standard of integrity.
People are watching. Friends of friends are seeing our posts. We are doing life with people we’ve never met. It’s a little bit crazy. But this is not a 21st century phenomenon. In fact, the situation may have been even a worse in the 1st century. Paul tells the Thessalonians:
Just as a nursing mother cares for her children, so we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well. Surely you remember, brothers and sisters, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you. You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed. For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory. 1 Thessalonians 2:7-12 (NIV)
Paul’s followers were not seeing him only through carefully crafted letters that showed all the great things he did and his Instagram-worthy perfect Christian life. They saw him up close and personal, every day, living and working alongside him.
They saw the good days when hearts were healed and changed. They saw the bad days when he battled the infamous thorn in his flesh. They saw him encourage and celebrate people who brought him joy. They saw him correct and re-direct people who disappointed him.
And in that most intimate of settings, Paul had the boldness to say, “Imitate me.”
That seems a little cheeky, huh?
Before we accuse Paul of arrogantly thinking he is all that and a bag of chips, let’s look at what he says to imitate.
Imitate the way I serve people so they might be called into the Kingdom.
Imitate my faithfulness under opposition to spread the gospel of Christ.
Imitate the radical change Jesus has made in my life.
Imitate me as I imitate Christ.
That is a life worth imitating.
Today, we don’t even dare to think “Imitate me” much less come right out and say it. But whether we say it or think it or not, people are doing it.
We set the tone for those who are watching. That doesn’t mean we have to always be perfect. No one expects that.
It does mean we need to do our best to imitate Christ. We put people before projects. We offer grace when others make mistakes. We ask for forgiveness when we mess up. We are exceptionally honest and hold to the highest ethical standards.
We live and work among people so that if they choose to imitate us, they may be just a little bit closer to imitating Jesus.
Linking up with Holly Barrett at #TestimonyTuesday, Holley Gerth at Coffee For Your Heart, Crystal Storms at #HeartEncouragement, Natalie Venegas at Salt & Light, Susan B. Mead at #DanceWithJesus, Arabah Joy at Grace & Truth