Church Leader Devotion 4: Hard Work

As we continue to examine Paul's remarks to the Ephesian elders, we see that Paul concluded his sermon with these words: Screen Shot 2022-07-30 at 7.32.22 AM

"You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions.  In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive'" (Acts 20:34-35).

Paul didn't see leadership as a means to profit or gain, but as an expression of service. He worked as a tent maker so he could pay his own expenses (and those of his team) and did so to set an example of hard work that would help the weak. Who were the weak? It was those who would have assumed that Paul was being paid to do what he did and thus was nothing more than a hired worker, thus dismissing him as just another traveling teacher who were common in those days. Paul devised this strategy in direct response to Jesus' words, "it is more blessed to give than receive."

Are you doing what you can to help the weak not take offense at your work and ministry? Are you "working hard," the root word in Greek being kopos, which when translated means "intense labor united with toil and trouble"? Do you see ministry as a means of financial gain or spiritual reward? Ask God to give you a strategy like Paul had that will meet you and your family's needs but will also set a good example that the ministry is not something to be used as a means to personal gain.

Church Leader Devotion 2: Leadership Purpose

In the last devotion, we began a study of Paul's farewell address to the Ephesian elders when they came to visit him in Miletus. Screen Shot 2022-07-09 at 9.32.00 AMLet's move on to look at more of that sermon:

“And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace" (Acts 20:22-24).

Paul's main objective was to fulfill his purpose, which was "testifying to the good news of God's grace." More specifically, Paul did that more effectively among the Gentiles than he did with his own people. That is the power and focus of purpose. It is what you do that when you do it, you can sense God partnering with you, and you see results from your work. The Ephesian elders were proof of Paul's effectiveness, for he had established the church there and years later, it was thriving with elders in place.

If you're a church leader, don't assume your purpose statement is simply "preaching." It could be working with a certain age group through counseling, teaching, or practical care. It could also just be your presence, which encourages or challenges people in the Lord's will for their lives. Then again, it may be any of those in a particular area of your city or country, or even a foreign land.

Paul further described his purpose in Galatians 2:7: "On the contrary, they recognized that I had been entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been to the circumcised." What task has the Lord assigned you? Where are you most fruitful in your ministry work (not where do you hope or think you are most fruitful)? Can you describe it clearly and simply? Is it your aim to finish that race and complete your work like Paul? How can you be more effective?

Church Leader Devotion 1

I have had notes for quite some time that one day I hoped to publish in some kind of devotional for pastors and church leaders. Screen Shot 2022-07-02 at 11.51.30 AMI  have decided not to put it off any longer but to start with Paul's remarks to the Ephesian elders in Acts 20:

From Miletus, Paul sent to Ephesus for the elders of the church. When they arrived, he said to them: “You know how I lived the whole time I was with you, from the first day I came into the province of Asia. I served the Lord with great humility and with tears and in the midst of severe testing by the plots of my Jewish opponents. You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly and from house to house. I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus" (Acts 20:17-21).

What do we learn from these first few verses?

  1. Paul lived among the people so they could come to observe and know his way of life. He was not aloof but rather accessible to all.
  2. Paul had to deal with Jewish opponents wherever he went. Yet he remained humble and meek, and not combative. He stayed focused on his purpose for being among the people.
  3. His teaching and preaching were to equip and edify to the believers, not to perform or broadcast his own ministry.
  4. His ministry was both large group (public) and small group (house to house). Once again, we see he was accessible to the people. (Perhaps today he would use social media to teach and touch others.)
  5. His message was clear: repentance and faith.

How do you measure up to this first of Paul's statements in his address? What else do you see in these verses that would be relevant to church leaders? What changes do you need to make based on what you read in this post? Feel free to add your comments to the site where this entry is posted.