Sermon: Leadership Pt. 5

Written by Timothy

Leadership, Part 5
year 2000

A godly resume would only acknowledge that the pastor had “spent time with Jesus.” I have posted this on the Internet and have done job searches in this manner. I didn’t have any takers. I had one church in Canada write back and say they had looked over my resume and listened to the tapes, but they decided God wants them to stick with the way they do things. That is about the closest I ever came to an official job.

Let’s pretend that we will hire Paul as our pastor. Normally we start with a search committee and he would provide his resume, background, and references. We would check into his character and conduct concerning what kind of individual he is. The problem is if you began to look into Saul of Tarsus, you would never be able to come to a good conclusion. He was too controversial and too close to the cross to understand.

2 Corinthians 6:3- We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited. Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonment and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger;

This is what Paul’s resume basically looks like. He listed the things that prove he is a servant of God, belongs to Jesus Christ, and is a minister. I would imagine most churches would be very concerned about hiring an individual to be the pastor of the church who had participated in riots. The last thing they would want is a man who will cause riots in their town. We want him to be proper, respectful toward others, and present the gospel in a very cool and calm fashion. So hiring a man who has caused riots would cause a great concern for most people. They would consider this to be a minus. But, they might like the sleepless nights and the hard work.

2 Corinthians 6:6- in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left;

The next verse tells us if we researched Paul’s past we would find out what kind of pastor he is and what people would say about him.

2 Corinthians 6:8- through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors;

There will be some who sing his glory and talk about how good a man he is. Then there is the side that is dishonorable. There are two sides of who this man is, though he is the same man. There will be bad reports and good reports. Paul said he is “genuine yet regarded as an imposter.” As we checked out some of Paul’s character references they would say, “He’s an imposter. He’s not really a Christian. He’s just a troublemaker who causes riots and rejoices in beatings and imprisonment. He’s a very strange fellow. He probably came out of the mental institution, and not someone you would want to hire to preach from your pulpit.”

2 Corinthians 6:9- known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed;

Paul said, “God knows me and he knows that I serve him. Yet when people look at me and my life they say I am not known by God and God doesn’t know me.”

2 Corinthians 6:9-10- known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.

We would not be able to look at the outward appearance of who Paul is and come to the conclusion of whether he is a godly man or not. At least not based on our normal reasoning of what makes a godly man.

John 7:24- Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment.

This is just one sentence, but it is a very important statement for our lives. We have to move beyond always looking at the outward part of an individual. If we look at godly man like Paul of Tarsus we would say that he is not a godly man by all the trouble he caused. We would be able to quote Scripture to him. We would say, “Blessed are the peacemakers, so why are you going around the world causing so much trouble?”

It will be very important as we grow as a body and begin to decide in the Lord who should be a leader and who shouldn’t that we examine things not from outward appearances but from deep in the heart.

In 2 Corinthians, Paul didn’t come with letters of recommendation or his resume. He didn’t come with all kinds of worldly things to impress you with the fact that he is a godly man.

2 Corinthians 5:12- We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to take pride in us, so that you can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart.

So in order to be proud of Paul and say he is a Christian, you will have to see his heart. You will have to say, “Yes, there are a lot of outward things that you may have questions about, but I know what is in his heart.” People say this all the time, but they are not qualified to judge a man’s heart. We need to have a transformed mind and be able to hear from the Holy Spirit who is a godly man and who is not. It’s important as God begins to raise up leaders who are his that we see what is in their hearts, because a lot of the outward things may cause us to have problems and concerns.

One of the usual questions I am asked is, “How many people have you baptized or how many people are in your church?” Others include, “How many people support you?” “Who is behind you and how many people do you fellowship with?” In the following passage Paul tells us about one aspect of his life.

2 Timothy 1:15- You know that everyone in the province of Asia has deserted me, including Phygelus and Hermogenes.

Paul said everyone had left him and he was all by himself. Paul’s walk with the Lord got him into situations that other individuals found too difficult to accept, and so they deserted him. A lot of us would blame Paul. We would say, “Paul, you are living too hard a gospel message. You are making this too difficult, too legalistic, and too narrow,” or whatever the excuse might be. Yet Paul said that everyone in the province of Asia had deserted him, including Phygelus and Hermogenes. He didn’t shy away from the fact that following the cross of Jesus Christ can cause pressure and that many times people will desert and leave. The point is, if we tried to research Paul, we would come to the conclusion that nobody stuck with him, supported him, or stayed with him very long. We would come to the conclusion that Paul preached something wrong or there was something wrong with his character. If we judge by outward appearance, we would say everyone deserted Paul because of who he was or some sinister thing that was in his life. Paul said this again in another passage. Now I am certainly not saying that because a man is deserted that he is somehow righteous. Many people need to be deserted, but we have to move beyond this outward kind of judgment that says just because a man is deserted means he is not of God. We need to judge the heart.

2 Timothy 4:9-11- Do your best to come to me quickly, for Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, and Titus to Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry.

I am sure Demas did not leave Paul and tell everyone, “I am at fault and I am in sin.” I am sure Demas did not say, “Hey, I love the world and that’s why I deserted Paul.” I am sure he went out saying, “There is something narrow about Paul’s message, something too difficult. Paul goes overboard. It is the way Paul presents it. It is too offensive.” He probably said, “I don’t disagree with the message of the cross or that we have to deny ourselves. I don’t disagree that we should be persecuted for righteousness sake. It’s just that Paul is too extreme.” I am sure Demas did not say, “I just love the world and want to party. Goodbye.” He had to justify himself some way. Very few men are honest enough to admit they just don’t want God. If we asked Demas, “Tell us about Paul’s character. We understand that you deserted him. Can you tell me why you left?” Demas would be able to lay out all the reasons he left and whose fault it was. It wouldn’t be Demas’ fault would it? It would be Paul’s fault. As we try to research, as Paul tries to apply for a job, so to speak, we would ask for references. Who would Paul list as a reference? We play this worldly game rather than just asking the Lord, “Is this man of you? Is he someone you have sent and have planted and are using, or not?” We have to be able to judge what is in the heart.

2 Corinthians 3:1- Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, like some people, letters of recommendation to you or from you?

When a man comes in to commend himself with letters of recommendation and talks about all the things that God has done in his life in order to impress you, he is a worldly man. It might be spiritual stories he tells you or religious things he declares. It might look like a lot of good fruit, but Paul said, “Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Do we say we really are of God? Or do we need letters of recommendation to you or from you?” It is a worldly thing to go around with a resume getting references to say that I am a godly man. It is ridiculous. That is the way the world conducts its business. The church does not conduct its business the way the world does. The church goes before God and asks, “Who is it you have planned to do the work?” The minute we get into a discussion and examination, we will never come to a proper conclusion. By the time you are done looking at Paul you will have good reports and bad reports. Now how will you come to a conclusion? At that point you have to go back and seek God. If you had done that in the first place you could have spared yourself getting the good and bad reports and just heard from God what you needed to do.

2 Corinthians 3:2- You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody.

The congregation reflects the leadership. He said, “You are our recommendation. You are our letter. You are the ones who stand up to take pride of what is in the heart rather than in what is seen.”

2 Corinthians 4:5- For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.

This is the whole problem. When men come to preach what are they really preaching? Are they really preaching Jesus Christ or are they promoting their ministry and themselves? Paul said, “We do not preach ourselves.” It is amazing to see some people preach. They tell story after story about their life in Jesus Christ. Who do they really preach to? What are they really talking about? They talk about themselves and tack on Jesus Christ in order to promote their ministry or their work or themselves. Paul said, “We don’t preach ourselves, we preach Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. Not only do we not come in puffing ourselves up, but we come in saying we are your servants. We are here to serve you, not promote ourselves.”

2 Corinthians 4:6- For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

That was a pretty tall thing for Paul to say. He compared the light in his heart to the light in the universe. He just talked about being able to see who preaches about themselves and who does not. Do we have enough of the light of the universe that God has been able to open our hearts to discern who is preaching themselves, their ministry, their church, or their work and who honestly preaches Jesus Christ? God wants to flood our hearts with the same power that floods the universe so that we can discern these things and see what is really in an individual’s heart. What is it that they really promote? It takes that divine power the same power that flooded a dark universe to flood our hearts enough to see what is real and true.

2 Corinthians 4:7- But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.

When Paul came in among them, he came in weakness. He didn’t come with his education, religious degree, or all the works that he had done. He came in showing his weakness, just being a jar of clay. He came in demonstrating that he was just a man, that he is nothing and God is everything. Everybody might be the same as Paul, if they would rely on God’s power. But men preach and puff themselves up, and gather around themselves other people who will puff them up and they puff other people up. Paul simply came in and said, “I am a servant among you and this is who I am in Jesus Christ. You can be the same by the power of God. You do not need any extra trappings of anything else. You do not need the flattery or the puffing up of each other. This is what it means to serve God.”

John 5:41- I do not accept praise from men,

We need more of this attitude in the church. This needs to be in our hearts. Jesus Christ says, “I do not accept it and I will not allow it. I don’t let it come to me at all.” We should walk around with the attitude that says, “I don’t want your praise. I don’t even accept what you have to say about me.” If we had that cross and hatred of ourselves in our heart, then we would not be motivated by other men who come in to flatter us or to use us for their own benefit, programs, and self-glorification.

John 5:41-42- I do not accept praise from men, but I know you. I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts.

If I accept praise from men, what do I automatically not have in my heart? If I preach myself and promote who I am, then what is it that I immediately lose from my heart? What will happen if I begin to add a little bit of insanity that talks about my qualifications in Jesus Christ and how he uses me so mightily? If I point back to myself in any shape or form in order to get this praise, then what will be said about my heart? It will then be noted that I don’t have the love of God in my heart. When a man loves the Lord his God with all his heart and that is all he preaches and is in love with.

John 5:42-43- but I know you. I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts. I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not accept me; but if someone else comes in his own name, you will accept him.

This is what is so backwards about human nature and the idolatry that is there. If a man comes in not preaching himself, we think he’s up to something. We think he is more sinister than the guy who is up to something. If a man comes in talking and promoting himself, puffing himself up, we see someone we can recognize and so we are not afraid of him, because we are not afraid of our own sin. But if someone comes in with the power of the cross of Jesus Christ, not preaching himself, we do not recognize that individual and when we don’t understand something, we become afraid of it. We think they are up to something really sneaky. We begin to say things like, “Well, they really cannot be that humble. There really has to be some secret sin that they are hiding.”

Jesus Christ is very clear. “I have come in my Father’s name and you do not accept me, but if someone else comes in his own name, you will accept him.”

John 5:44- How can you believe if you accept praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God?

Notice how belief is connected with not accepting the praise that comes from men. “How can you believe if you accept praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God?” Our goal should be to accept no praise from any man. I won‘t lay down a rule that says, “Don’t praise anybody,” but in our hearts the cross must be there. There has to be that joy in Jesus and losing attention for ourselves.

John 5:45- But do not think I will accuse you before the Father. Your accuser is Moses, on whom your hopes are set.

The very thing they were relying on will be the thing that judges them. Jesus Christ will turn to them and say, “I know you accept praise from one another and you puff each other up. You use God and scripture to justify what you do. That will be the very thing that condemns you in the end.”

John 5:46-47- If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?”

When you begin talking about this whole thing and to point out these scriptures, people will say, “That’s not what it means.” If we smooth it over and water it down, or qualify it in our own hearts, how will we ever hear the voice of the living God tell us what the truth is? If we can’t believe what is written down, we will not hear the voice of the Lord and be able to understand what is talked about here, and what the cross will produce. But let us have the insight of Jesus Christ, which can see into men’s hearts and understand what real godly leadership looks like. Let’s get rid of all our worldly notions of what makes a man a good leader and or a bad leader. Let’s begin to ask God to raise up men who are leaders according to his standards and how he wants to conduct himself.

1 Corinthians 3:1- Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly mere infants in Christ.

Since we know that a man really is nothing and that he shouldn’t be promoting himself, why is it that we talk so much about other men? Why is it that we become so excited about who they are, what they say, or their name? The last thing I want to hear in this body is: “Well, Tim said this,” or “Tim wrote that.” I am nothing.

1 Corinthians 3:2-5- I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men? For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere men? What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believeas the Lord has assigned to each his task.

Men are nothing. What they say is nothing and what they write is nothing. Yet we put up with men all the time who come in their own name and talk about themselves. We’re actually impressed with that kind of preaching. We think it’s more spiritual to hear a man preach about himself than we do to hear him preach about Jesus Christ. It is because we recognize his character and we can identify with his pride.

1 Corinthians 3:6-7- I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.

Neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything! He’s not anything, “but only God who makes things grow”! It’s only God who is to be glorified and lifted up, and that’s where our attention needs to be. That’s what needs to be in our hearts.

1 Corinthians 3:8-9- The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.

But they are nothing. They are servants and laborers. They’re just men. So no more boasting about men, no more dropping of names, no more excitement about what a man has to say. As we talk about it, quote the Word. Lift up God, lift up Jesus Christ as holy.

1 Corinthians 1:10- I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.

This scripture is totally ignored in the church today, because men think it’s impossible to live. Yet look what it says, “That you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.” Everybody will be thinking alike and in total agreement about everything that happens. How can we get to a place where we have that? Simply by not lifting up a man, our own selves, or our own opinions, but looking only to Jesus Christ and what he wants to work. Jesus Christ thinks the same, and he is always in unity with what he believes and who he is. But when we begin to hold to our opinions or those of other men, then divisions start to take place because each man picks the things he likes to say and believes the way he desires. They might be the same belief, but they are said totally different ways. Let us just hold up Jesus Christ. Men are nothing but servants that should lead us to Jesus Christ. “That you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.” We should not only be in agreement, but our thinking itself should be unified. Do you understand? The one is like a static thing, a statement of belief that we all agree to. The other is that the thinking process and the way we come to conclusions and hear from the voice of the Lord are united. The only way we will be that kind of people is to not begin to lift up men or ourselves.

1 Corinthians 1:11-12- My brothers, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas “; still another, “I follow Christ.”

You can just see the fighting and the division that went on. One person said, “I follow Jesus Christ.” Another said, “I follow Paul. I believe the way he says things.” They do this instead of just looking to Jesus Christ. Notice how the words, “I follow Christ” can be used for division’s sake. We can still say, “I follow Jesus Christ,” but be taking on his words to promote ourselves, and that ends in division even though we’re taking our stand in the name of the Lord. Many people take their stand in the name of the Lord, but who do they preach? Who are they talking about? They’re promoting themselves. They’re getting Jesus Christ to agree with their opinions so they can puff themselves up.

1 Corinthians 1:13-15- Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of Paul? I am thankful that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, so no one can say that you were baptized into my name. (Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don’t remember if I baptized anyone else.) For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

The minute we ask, “How many people have you baptized? How many people follow you?” we are mere men. We try to raise the score, to see who has the most followers. I guess he who has the most numbers wins. If we want to play that game, then let’s become Mormons or Muslims, because they gain more people than anyone else.

2 Corinthians 11:16- I repeat: Let no one take me for a fool. But if you do, then receive me just as you would a fool, so that I may do a little boasting.

So what is the nature of foolish people? They accepted a man who boasted about his works and who he was in Jesus Christ. So Paul said, “I will talk like a complete idiotlike a fool.” Eventually he said, “I’m out of my mind. I’m insane to talk like this.” Yet it’s the men who are insane that we see as spiritual and the men who are sane that we think are insane.

2 Corinthians 11:17 –18- In this self-confident boasting I am not talking as the Lord would, but as a fool. Since many are boasting in the way the world does, I too will boast.

Now think about the church for a moment. Think about the way ministries are promoted and the way men promote themselves. Isn’t it just like the world? When was the last time you walked away from a ministry and thought, “There’s something radically different about the way they present themselves!” Indeed the church uses the ways, mannerisms, and ideas of the world to arrive at decisions. Why else would a church want a resume or letters of recommendation? That’s the way the world conducts itself. We’re to be totally separate, in tune with the spirit, and understanding what God wants to work. Paul said, “Alright since you guys want to play the fool, since you want to be insane, let’s go on boasting in the way the world does. I too will boast.”

2 Corinthians 11:19- You gladly put up with fools since you are so wise!

Listen to the sarcasm that just oozes from his speaking. “You gladly rejoice in them. You’re excited about these guys, and you put up with them because you are just so wise in Jesus Christ. You’re able to see things that nobody else can see.”

2 Corinthians 11:20- In fact, you even put up with anyone who enslaves you or exploits you or takes advantage of you or pushes himself forward or slaps you in the face.

He said, “You are so spiritual that you allow all these things to take place. If a man comes in preaching himself, you’re so spiritual and so in tune with the Holy Spirit you’re so much closer to God that you can recognize that this guy is really of the Lord.” He said, “I’m not that spiritual. I wish I were more spiritual, that I could put up with these fools.” Where is the indignation? Where is our anger and the boldness like Paul, to say, “You will not come in here with this kind of insanity and call it something spiritual. You gladly put up with fools because you are so wise. You are just excited about men such as these” We can’t even get to the point of anger, frustration, or kicking these guys out. Nobody seems to get that indignant about it! It’s like it is the accepted thing. In fact, if you don’t accept men like this, people think there’s something wrong with you. If a man comes in promoting himself, pushing himself forward, slapping you in the face, and taking advantage of you, you’re just so holy, loving, and tolerant, that you put up with these insane men. We should not put up with insane men.

2 Corinthians 11:21- To my shame I admit that we were too weak for that! What anyone else dares to boast about I am speaking as a fool I also dare to boast about.

Paul sarcastically retorted, “I’m just not spiritual enough to tolerate these guys who come in with this insanity. I’m sorry, pray for me, will you? I don’t have that kind of love and patience with these guys. To my shame, I admit that we were too weak for that! Shall we have a lot of fun in playing the boasting games? OK, I’ve been in prison this many times. I’ve been rejected this many times.” Isn’t everybody that you see out there insane? We baptize more people! We reach out to more people! We reach out to the world! We’re doing all these grand works! Over and over again there’s a constant emphasis on self, not Jesus Christ.

2 Corinthians 11:22- Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they Abraham’s descendants? So am I.

“OK, let’s play this game” he said.

2 Corinthians 11:23- Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again.

We should only be talking about Jesus Christ. We should be worshipping him only. He should be our first and only joy. I’m out of my mind to talk like this. I’m a loony man ready to be put in the insane asylum.

2 Corinthians 11:24-25- Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea,

All of this is insane talk. Do you understand Paul’s point? He said that all of this talking about who he was and what he has done in his ministries is insanity. Yet how we love men who preach with insanity! They stand up and tell story after story about how God did such and such. Some of these guys have more things happen to them in one day than I have in 25 years of walking with the Lord. It is amazing how God talks to them in every little detail, and opens up every little door. I mean angels sing as they walk down the road, and we put up with this! We are excited about it! These guys are insane, they are out of their minds, and they do not have the love of God in their hearts. I don’t care how much they preach about anything else. That is what is in their hearts, and that’s what you have to measure.

2 Corinthians 11:26- I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers.

Everything he said here is the mark of a man who is a fool, a complete idiot, and out of his mind. Yet if a guy comes in telling these stories, we are so impressed with who he is. He can take advantage of us and we enjoy it.

2 Corinthians 11:28- Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.

We just talk about ourselves and what we have to carry. Leadership says, “Oh, I have to do this and that.” I can’t tell you how many people that I’ve talked to that are elders or leaders who whine and say, “Oh I didn’t really want this job, and it’s really difficult.” Well then, don’t do it! Go find something else to do if it’s not a labor of love! But where you find this attention going back to the man, he is insane. He is a fool. Let us not put up with him. Let us rebuke him and drive him out.

2 Corinthians 11:29- Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?

You see, where there’s no humility from the cross, there’s a contest going on of who does what and who does more. I guarantee, if you walk into a group of insane men like this, and say, “Man, I really had to wrestle with this sin yesterday,” somebody will say, “I know what you mean, I had to wrestle with this over here.” It just keeps going up the scale, until pretty soon somebody confesses to murdering 20 people! Everybody is in this contest to draw attention to who they are and their struggles in Jesus Christ. The stories become more and more insane and half of them don’t have a kernel of truth to them in the first place. It has been so exaggerated from what it really was!

2 Corinthians 11:30- If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.

If somebody boxes me in a corner and I have no choice but to boast, I will say, “Come to our church because we don’t have anybody. We can’t sing. We have no youth group. We have nothing to offer you. If you want the cross, it’s here.” We will boast of the things that demonstrate our weakness, not our strength. We will demonstrate to other people that if you see any righteousness, it is His work. It is not because I prayed and fasted. No, we will only point to Jesus Christ and in my weakness, shame, and humility, he works his righteousness and brokenness. He gives his life. But if I have to boast, if I have to say anything about my character, I will tell you what I am not, and not what I am! Paul said, “I will demonstrate and show to you my weakness. Anything else is the mark of an insane man.”

2 Corinthians 11:31- The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, who is to be praised forever, knows that I am not lying.

Now Paul will talk about his weakness and I want you to read the story he tells. “In Damascus the governor under King Aretas had the city of the Damascenes guarded in order to arrest me. But I was lowered in a basket from a window in the wall and slipped through his hands.” Now of all the things that happened with Paul’s ministry, that’s probably got to be the least exciting thing. He could have talked about raising the dead, casting out demons, and the multitudes of people he saved and the things he had done. People would have been excited to hear those things. But what did he talk about? We would be bored with a man like this. Suppose we have two speakers come into our church. One talks about the angels speaking to him and God opening up doors and how God put him in this particular position. He’s just poised to do all these grand things in Jesus Christ. He will talk about how God arranged his life in all these different ways and we would listen to his story. But then a guy stands up and says, “God worked this tremendous miracle in my life. I was lowered down from a wall in a basket and escaped.” We would respond, “Yeah, and how was God glorified? How was he magnified?” He chose the least example to glorify God.

2 Corinthians 11:32-33 to 12-1- In Damascus the governor under King Aretas had the city of the Damascenes guarded in order to arrest me. But I was lowered in a basket from a window in the wall and slipped through his hands. I must go on boasting. Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord.

What is there to be gained by all this boasting anyway? A man comes in and boasts and gets allegiance. He comes in with revelations, stories, and insight, to gather people around him. However, he only has those people until somebody else comes along with a better revelation and a better story. If that is how he gathers people around and builds his congregation, then he’s always in danger that somebody else will come in with a better story to draw people away. He knows in the deep part of his heart that the only reason those people are there is because he entertains them and brings them in with stories. This is why preaching from the pulpit continues to be one more story after another and one more exciting event after another, because they have to keep people there by constantly increasing the tone and the stories that go forth. They just simply cannot preach Jesus Christ! The question is, what are we attracted to and what do we see as holy? Are we awed and inspired by these men’s stories? Or are we impressed with men who boast of their weaknesses? Those who boast of their weakness are rather dull characters.

Acts 4:13- When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.

A godly resume is just a sentence or two. If somebody were to say, “What qualifies you to be a pastor? What qualifies you to be a minister?” Do you know what the answer is? “I’ve spent time with Jesus.” That’s it. That’s the only thing that qualifies a man to be fit for any type of leadership or anything in Jesus Christ, for that matter. But who will be impressed with that kind of resume? Who will be impressed with that kind of statement? But these men saw the glory of God. They knew they were unschooled, ordinary men and they were astonished at these guys. They were astonished at what God had worked. Leadership preaches themselves, so nobody is astonished at who they are. They don’t see the glory of God and his power. They don’t say, “Those are ordinary men. That guy is unschooled he is nothing.” They don’t see them boasting of their weaknesses. Nobody leaves really impressed that God was involved at all! They have to tell you that God was in their life. That’s clue number one! “God is really with us in this congregation, and God is really with our leadership. We’re really anointed.” Run, because he is not there, and the man is not anointed. It says, “They took note.” They saw the quality and the holiness coming from them. They realized they were unschooled, ordinary men and they were astonished at this fact. What they took note of was not all their grand works. They said they had just spent time with Jesus Christ. The only reason men need to be impressed with who we are is if we have just spent time with Him. We’ve just hung around with Jesus Christ and we have just talked to him. We’ve just sat sometimes in our quiet times and Jesus Christ has so transformed us. We didn’t ask, we didn’t beg, he just did the work. Men will begin to take note of the courage, boldness, righteousness, and holiness, as we boast of our weaknesses.

Acts 24:17- After an absence of several years, I came to Jerusalem to bring my people gifts for the poor and to present offerings.

Paul didn’t say, “I went to Bible school in Jerusalem.” He’d already done that, by the way, and it didn’t do him one bit of good. He wasn’t about to commit the same mistake. He just went to spend time with Jesus, to be transformed by his power and holiness. But men don’t want to spend time with Jesus Christ, do they? We want to be out doing other things. It’s much more exciting to go to a church social than to spend time with Jesus. What would happen in most churches if the pastor said, “No church today. Everybody just go home and spend time with Jesus.” That would last for about twenty minutes. What will we do with the rest of the day? What will we do for fun? We want people to entertain us, boast of themselves, flatter us, and use us.

1 Thessalonians 2:1- You know, brothers, that our visit to you was not a failure.

We look at this Paul of Tarsus and ask, “Should we hire him as a pastor? What kind of pastor would he be? Would he have a pastor’s heart? How would he conduct himself?”

1 Thessalonians 2:2- We had previously suffered and been insulted in Philippi, as you know, but with the help of our God we dared to tell you his gospel in spite of strong opposition.

Suppose we ask somebody, “What qualifies you to be a pastor in our church?” and he says, “Well I’ve been insulted a lot.” Would we say, “Oh, you must be a godly man”? Would that be our first reaction? No, we don’t want a pastor in the congregation that’s insulted all the time, do we? We want someone that fits into the community and represents the church well. Now I’m not telling you that every man that is insulted or is obnoxious is godly. What I’m saying is that to live a godly life you will suffer insults.

Acts 17:5- But the Jews were jealous; so they rounded up some bad characters from the marketplace, formed a mob and started a riot in the city. They rushed to Jason’s house in search of Paul and Silas in order to bring them out to the crowd.

Riots are probably what Paul considered to be an insult. We would have whined to Paul and said, “Couldn’t you have done this a different way? Was it really necessary to go into the town and get everybody all worked up? Did you really need to cause all this trouble and start a riot?” Now you have to understand, Paul didn’t go into a town to start a riot. But preaching the gospel the way God wants it done may start some riots here and there.

Acts 17:6- But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some other brothers before the city officials, shouting: “These men who have caused trouble all over the world have now come here,”

“So Paul, what qualifies you to be a pastor in our church?” He would say, “I’ve caused trouble all over the world in Jesus Christ.” We’ll sign him up, because as a church we want that kind of trouble, right? Is this what men look for and desire? No, we want to be presented well and respected in the community. Why do you think this nation is falling apart? The church wants to be accepted. It wants to be well thought of. It wants to be understood.

Acts 17:7- and Jason has welcomed them into his house. They are all defying Caesar’s decrees, saying that there is another king, one called Jesus.

You have to understand who is suffering herenot only Paul, but also his friends. Do we want to associate with pastors that may cause us a lot of trouble? These guys will get into trouble. Paul’s not even there with them, and yet they will suffer the consequences for the way he presented the gospel. Do we want to identify with a Paul like that? Do we want to say, “I’m his brother. We support him. Yes, he’s our pastor. This is who he is and this is how he conducts himself. He caused riots in the city, and guess what? We will have to post bond over this whole issue”?

Acts 17:6-8- “These men who have caused trouble all over the world have now come here, and Jason has welcomed them into his house. They are all defying Caesar’s decrees, saying that there is another king, one called Jesus.” When they heard this, the crowd and the city officials were thrown into turmoil.

Everybody was all upset because he preached Jesus Christ. Paul didn’t go into the town to start a riot. That wasn’t his goal. His goal was, as scripture says, to mind his own business, and to lead a quiet life (1 Thessalonians 4:11). But it won’t always happen. If you were to research Paul, to hire him as a pastor, you would come to a wrong conclusion. You would be judging everything by an outward appearance, and think, “He can’t be of God he causes too much trouble. If there’s one thing we know, Jesus Christ said, ‘Blessed are the peacemakers.’ Paul must not be loving enough for all this turmoil, all these rumors, and all this slander to be taking place.”

Acts 17:9- Then they made Jason and the others post bond and let them go.

The trouble came because Paul preached the gospel. Later on it will say that Paul left town. He didn’t even hang around to help pay the price. Whether we accept Paul or not depends on our viewpoint and what kind of hearts we have. Not only did Paul aim to live a quiet life, he was also very forceful with the gospel. It meant you either supported Paul, or you left him and deserted him in Asia.

Acts 19:28- When they heard this, they were furious and began shouting: “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” Soon the whole city was in an uproar. The people seized Gaius and Aristarchus, Paul’s traveling companions from Macedonia, and rushed as one man into the theater.

The preaching of the gospel causes an uproar. Yes, Jesus Christ said that he came to cause division and was eager for it to take place. Do we have his heart? The world gets united against you whenever you start preaching Jesus Christ.

Acts 19:30- Paul wanted to appear before the crowd, but the disciples would not let him.

He seized any and every opportunity, no matter how severe it was, to preach the gospel. Now does God have to hold us back, or push us forward to preach the gospel? For most of us, we consider it a grand, bold thing if we say one little sharp direct thing to somebody. But God wants people he has to hold back. People so willing to lose their lives, they throw all safety and all concern about themselves to the wind! They don’t even think about it. Everybody has to hold them back and say, “Don’t do this.”

Acts 19:31- Even some of the officials of the province, friends of Paul, sent him a message begging him not to venture into the theater.

Would we hire someone like Paul? Would we be proud of his evangelism technique? What would we be urging him to do? Would we identify with him and say, “Yes, he’s my brother. Yes, what he does is of God”?

2 Timothy 1:8- So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God,

To hire a godly man in Jesus Christ, we must embrace something that at first, our flesh would be ashamed of, concerned with, want to contain, and not fully understand. It’s a different kind of character, because it’s Jesus Christ in the man.

As we pray for godly leadership, let’s have eyes that can see what God raises up. Let us not put up with, be enthralled with, or be excited about men who are insane. Let us just preach Jesus Christ. Let us look for that purity in a man.

Father, we do ask that you glorify your name by raising up those and bringing those, Father, who will embrace you with all their heart and mind and soul and strength. We know, oh Lord, that these words sound so contrite in the environment around us, and we pray that only Jesus Christ would be lifted up. If any of us are ever boxed in and forced to boast may we declare our weakness, oh Lord. Father, all men are nothing, but you are worthy and are everything. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.

This transcription has been edited to a reader friendly format. Every effort has been made to be true to the speaker’s original message. Any mistranslations are unintentional.

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Host of The Consider Podcast
Examining today’s wisdom, madness, and folly.