Some people use their authority as a weapon. They try and force others to do their will. Paul talks about what he sees as the correct use of the authority God gives to church leaders.
For even if I boast somewhat freely about the authority the Lord gave us for building you up rather than pulling you down, I will not be ashamed of it.
2 Corinthians 10:8
Apparently, there were those who vilified Paul’s ministry. They looked at the fact that he didn’t force his authority on others as a weakness. They falsely claimed that this was proof that he had no authority.
Of course, Paul was not the type of person who cared what others said about him. He continued to walk in his calling before God.
He explained to the church that the reason God has given him authority was to build them up and not to tear them down. Paul boldly declares that he won’t be ashamed of not being a spiritual bully.
I do not want to seem to be trying to frighten you with my letters. For some say, “His letters are weighty and forceful, but in person he is unimpressive and his speaking amounts to nothing.” Such people should realize that what we are in our letters when we are absent, we will be in our actions when we are present.
2 Corinthians 10:9-11
Even in his writings, Paul is not trying to force anyone to do his bidding. But there is a greater ministry at work here.
There are obviously people who are jealous of Paul’s ministry. So in order to feel better about themselves, they have to discredit Paul.
In their critique of Paul, they admit that his letters are powerful. The words they use show that they see the weightiness and the force behind what he’s saying.
There’s a reason for this. I don’t think that anyone knew it at the time, but God had anointed Paul to write New Covenant Scripture. Of course, these critics could see that Paul’s letters were important.
The letters had to be powerful. The Holy Spirit was empowering them to speak to the church for another couple of thousands of years. Without question, they had a force behind them.
But in person, Paul was speaking to a congregation that he had given birth to in the spirit. He wanted to nurture and love on them. That’s why some despised Paul, saying that his in-person ministry was of no comparison to his letters.
What these people didn’t realize is that Paul had the authority of God to “clean house”. He just preferred to use a gentler method. He wanted those under his ministry to desire the changes that were necessary.
This should speak to us. As church leaders, it should never be our goal to force those under us into submission. We should be seeking to lead by example. In that way, we’re portraying the true picture of Christ to those around us.
Question: What are your thoughts on leadership by example?
© 2020 Nick Zaccardi