For tonight, I want us to look at Acts 27, and that may be a very strange place to look to deal with the subject that I want to deal with tonight, and that is the subject of biblical leadership, or what are the characteristics of a true leader. But this is something I have thought about, and read about, and studied for many years, since I’ve been in the ministry, trying to really understand leadership. I’ve attended leadership seminars and none of them really helped I guess. But there are some principles that just sort of flew off the page some years ago when I was reading through the 27th chapter of Acts.
In fact, it was kind of interesting because I was preaching the 27th chapter of Acts while I was here at Grace some years ago. And I knew that the very week I had to prepare this I also had to prepare a study on leadership for a church conference where I was speaking; and because I didn’t have time to do two things, I tried to figure out how leadership could fit into the 27th chapter of Acts. And I kind of asked the Lord to give me some insight so I could double up the preparation; and it was amazing how it was implied in what happens here in this chapter. This is a narrative. It says absolutely nothing outright about leadership, the subject of leadership just oozes out of the situation; and the more I have meditated on this and the more I have studied it, the clearer it has crystalized in my mind as to a good basis for discussing leadership.
Now, this is not what you would call a careful exposition of Acts 27. It’s very loose. It’s simply an attempt to illustrate from this chapter principles of leadership that are manifest in the behavior of the apostle Paul.
Now, leadership is an important subject today. There are endless church seminars on leadership. In fact, there are endless seminars on leadership, period. There are some people who make their living going around talking to corporate executives and leaders, and they’ll get as much as $1,500 to $2,000 a lecture just to talk about the principles of leadership, because of the tremendous necessity of adequate leadership to accomplish anything, whether it’s in education, or whether it’s in commerce, business, or whatever. And it’s true in the church. The world faces a crisis of leadership and the church is no different. Whether you’re talking about politics, or the police department, or commerce, or the church, or anything and everything inside and outside of those categories, leadership is vital.
But, particularly, our interest is in the church; and there are many, many problems related to leadership in the church, or a lack of leadership, or inadequate, or inept, or misguided leadership; and so it is a critical area. In fact, I’ve picked up five Christian periodicals in the last week, and every one of them was advertising a seminar on leadership. If you’re a Christian at all, you probably have some leadership responsibility, whether it’s in your home or whether it’s with a Bible study group or whether it’s at work, you probably have somebody who is in some way responsible to be directed by you. And, of course, that is an ascending thing all the way up to some of you who may be in corporate executive positions or in ministries over many people, some even on our own pastoral and elders boards here. But leadership is a vital thing.
As I travel around, and particularly this summer, it was brought to my attention, talking with pastor after pastor after pastor, the common problems that arise, that they discuss, are problems related very often to a power struggle for leadership or to an inability to resolve who is the leader or mistakes made in the position of leadership. There are all kinds of approaches to leadership that have been offered. The world has a traditional approach which is called the SNL. That’s initials for the strong natural leader. And industry, more and more, looks for this. In fact, an article in Harper’s Magazine indicated that major industries and corporations are now not looking at highly-educated people for leadership positions, because they feel the more you go along in education, the further you pursue education, the more prescribed you are, and the more able you are to conform to research and the less you indicate creativity. I don’t know whether that’s true. But what they’re looking for is somebody who has a latent kind of leadership sock that falls under the category of strong natural leader.
And they characterize them in the following way. A strong natural leader is visionary. He always sees beyond what’s going on, great visions. Now while I’m going through this, you’ll think of some pastors that you know who fall under this category. I’m thinking of some that I know. Great vision. They don’t really ever see what’s going on, they’re always way out there building the next building, or conquering the next continent, or winning the next planet, or whatever.
Secondly, they are action-oriented, and that is, they are moved to be moving all the time. They rarely sit and contemplate, they’re always on the move. Thirdly, they are courageous; and if you’re a Christian strong natural leader and you’re courageous, people call it faith. It’s really just guts. You have enough nerve to do some things that no one else would do, in many cases.
Fourthly, they say a strong natural leader is energetic. If he was a child, we’d call him hyperkinetic. Fifth, a strong natural leader tends to be objective-oriented rather that people-oriented. He tends to see the accomplishment of a goal rather than the person involved or the people involved; and very often, people are simply little tools that you use to get your goal accomplished. Sixth, strong natural leaders tend to be paternalistic. That is, they tend to play the father image to feel themselves, the great mother hen with the wings over everybody else, making sure everybody comes under the protection that they offer.
Seventh, they are normally egocentric. That is, their whole world revolves around themselves. Eighth, they are always intolerant of incompetence in others. The one thing that drives them up the wall is when somebody else can’t perform the way they expect them to. And, ninth, they are always indispensable. You could never get along without them.
So, the traditional view of leadership is the SNL, and he’s characterized by being visionary, action-oriented, courageous, energetic, objective-oriented, paternalistic, ego-centered, intolerant of incompetence in others, and indispensable. Now, you know when you have that in the church for a pastor you’ve got some problems, you really do. You’ve got a whole lot of people just holding on for dear life while this guy is rampaging through his fantasy. And I guess it really denies, in a sense, the primary requisite of biblical leadership, and that is that you accomplish God’s goals through God’s people, not by doing it all yourself. So, there is a difference.
And it isn’t easy to be a leader, believe me. It’s not easy. It’s not easy to lead well, it’s the most difficult thing in the world. It’s like Snoopy said, “I hate being head beagle.” There’s just something about being in that position that’s tough.
I’ve often said the hardest job in the world is to be a pastor. I’m not being bitter about it, I love it. But it’s the hardest job in the world to be a pastor, because, you see, you have to organize and lead a whole bunch of people who are all volunteers, none of whom you can command; all of whom you have to say, “Oh, please,” to, none of whom you can fire; and many of whom, when you make a mistake, are eager to let you know. Tough, very difficult. And all through your ministry of leadership - and being in the pastorate is leadership - but all through it, there are always enough successes to keep you in it, and enough failures to keep you on your knees, and people who remind you of both. It isn’t easy.
There are tensions in leadership. Let me tell you what I think some of them are. I think being a leader builds some real anxiety into the heart that you have to deal with. The first one I call self-underestimation or the fear of failure. Leaders sort have live with the fear of failure, because there’s no way to crawl away gracefully. There you are in all your glory fumbling. The fear of failure, that’s something you have to deal with. The facts are that in your humanness and in your weakness you’ve got all these people following you and you may fail, and so maybe you tend to underestimate yourself and become fearful. That’s something you have to deal with.
Second, I think leaders suffer from the tension of distrusting their own personal judgment; And by that I mean sometimes you have to make decisions that are pretty tough. I mean sometimes you have to make a decision, even you do. A friend will come to you and say, “What should I do?” And they put you on the spot, don’t they? You’re now in the position of leader. What are you going to say? Maybe your first thought is, “Man, I don’t want to say anything, because if I say the wrong thing then I’m dead.”
And so there are some people who will never take a position of leadership because they have such a great distrust of their personal judgment. All leaders, I think, have to deal with that. It’s very difficult to have absolute confidence in your judgment, that’s why the only place I would ever want to be a leader would be in the church of Jesus Christ under the power of the Holy Spirit. So I had him Him as part of the process.
Thirdly, I think leaders suffer not only from the tension of self-underestimation, or the fear of failure and the tension of the distrust of their own personal judgment, and so sometimes they hesitate to make decisions; but thirdly, I think it’s a problem for leaders very often, because of a lack of trust of people. I know one pastor who wound up with a nervous breakdown simply because he had no capacity to give something to somebody to do and then let them do it. He was constantly wanting to look over their shoulder to make sure it got done right for fear that it would come back to him that he was doing an inadequate job. And so there is a lack of trust of people; and this is tension in leadership. You’re afraid that somebody won’t carry through. You say to somebody, “Here’s your assignment that I want you to do,” and if they don’t do that, that’s a tension for you. And of course, that’s legitimate, because, in a sense, you are responsible.
Fourthly, I think leaders also - I know myself - leaders also have to grapple with the idea of being guilty for being authoritative, being guilty for being authoritative. I really deal with this in my own heart, because I tend to just be authoritative when I come to the Word of God. And sometimes some dear person will come to me and they’ll say, “Oh, here’s my problem.” Tell me their problem and I’ll say, “Well, of course, the Bible says, you know.” I’ll lay out four verses. “Now, go solve your problem.” And they go out intimidated, you know.
You realize in a position of leadership you have to be strong and you have to take a position of authority, in a sense, and you have a certain amount of guilt because you have sort of pushed people into these things that you feel are right. You have to deal with it. And I guess the thing is it always, forever and a day if you’re a leader, somebody somewhere is mad at you, always. If it’s only somebody, you’re really in good shape. But because you’re authoritative and because you take a firm stand, you’ll always alienate somebody at all times and you have to deal with that guilt.
And then fifthly, I think another tension in leadership is defensiveness. Because you want to protect yourself all the time, you want to tend to try to explain everything you do instead of just doing it. You always want to kind of clear the record. So there are some tensions in being a leader: fear of failure, distrusting your own personal judgment, lack of trust of other people, fear they won’t carry through, guilt for being authoritative and being defensive, and trying to explain everything in order to justify what you’ve done. Now, if you can work through all of those things - and they’re not easy, and I’m just throwing them out for you to think about - and you realize, first of all, that you probably will fail, that’s all right.
I remember the first great proposal I ever presented to Grace Church. I hadn’t been here about six months and I had a great new idea for the Sunday School. I worked on it for months. I took it into the Christian Education Committee. I had it mimeographed. Oh, it was beautiful. Presented the whole thing and it was unanimously rejected, right across the board. You’ll fail, so you’ll have to deal to that.
Secondly, you will make mistakes in personal judgment. You’ll trust certain people that don’t work out. You’ll bring people into positions of responsibility who won’t work out. You’ll make a mistake in judging someone. You’ll make a mistake in your own wisdom. You’ll tell somebody to do something and it wasn’t the right thing to do. You need to realize it.
Thirdly, people won’t carry through. There will be times when you have great ambition, great plans, and great hopes, and you’ll lay it all out; and somebody will say, “I’ll do that,” and they don’t, and it’ll all crumble. And sometimes you will be too authoritative. And sometimes you will overstep the bounds of the right kind of authority, which would be that which is biblical, and you’ll be authoritative in an opinion area and you’ll be wrong, and you’ll be resented. And sometimes you need to be defensive, because sometimes you will need to explain why you did a certain thing.
It isn’t easy being a leader, that’s what I’m trying to say. The world’s standards aren’t our standards, but the tensions are the same, and the resource we have to deal with all of these things is this: that God has given us this responsibility. There never has been a perfect leader yet other than Jesus Christ. Is that right? Everyone made mistakes. You have to accept the responsibility. With all of your shortcomings, charge ahead.
Now, let’s look at the principles of leadership that flow out of this 27th chapter. I think it’s really kind of exciting. Let me just tell you what’s going on. The time we come to Acts 27, Paul is being sent to Rome. For some time now he’s been a prisoner in Caesarea, two years. He was taken prisoner in Caesarea after his third missionary journey. He returned from a Gentile world where he had a wonderful ministry of establishing churches. He came back to the feasts in Jerusalem. He really wanted to conciliate the Jerusalem church, so he brought back a whole lot of money from the Gentile church.
See, there was a basic split between Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians. It was long-standing, racial, way back; and Paul thought one great way to bring these two elements together would be to take money in a collection from all the Gentile churches and bring it as a gift to the Jewish church in Jerusalem, and that the Jewish church would then see the love of the Gentile. Not only did he bring the money, but he brought some of the Gentile representatives from the various churches with him. So, he arrived in Jerusalem and he tried his best to conciliate but it didn’t work; and in the midst of the hubbub that ensued, in the midst of all of the fury and the clamor that was taking place in Jerusalem, they took Paul as a prisoner - the authorities, not the church, the authorities.
They hustled him off to Caesarea and they left him there as a prisoner for two years, and finally, at the end of that time, he says, “Look, this case isn’t going anywhere. I appeal to Caesar.” And he, as a Roman citizen, had the right to do that. He said, “I want my case tried before Caesar. I want some kind of adjudication in this thing, some kind of final decision.” And so, he is now being transported to Rome in order that his case might be tried before the courts of Caesar in Rome. Frankly, he was guilty of absolutely nothing.
As we take it from chapter 27, verse 1, he’s on the ship ready to go. And as we look at it, we’re going to see flowing out of the text a very interesting thing. Watch. Here’s what happens. When the journey starts, the last guy in the rank on the ship is Paul. He is a criminal. He is a prisoner. He is slammed down in the hole of the boat with no authority at all, period.
There is a Roman Centurion, who would be a soldier over a hundred men. And under him, there would be other ranking officers, and then there would be those who were the soldiers of Augustus’ band itself. And then there was the captain of the ship, and then there was the first mate, and then there were the sailors. There were piles of people ranking far above Paul.
He didn’t know any of the things that he needed to know, particularly, about sailing the Mediterranean to Rome. He didn’t know anything about the organization and structure of the Roman army so that he could be given a position of leadership. But what is so amazing is by the time the ship is out of port and on its way, Paul takes over the entire trip; and before it’s done, he’s running the life of every individual on the ship. Why? Because a leader is a leader, and leaders will rise to the top like cream. And that’s exactly what happens. As Paul, from the position of weakness and inferiority, rises to the top, we see one by one characteristics of his life. Now, some of them are more obvious than others and others are just vaguely implied, and I’ll attempt to let you know the difference.
Verse 1: “And when it was determined that we should sail into Italy,” – we being Paul and Luke, no doubt, because Luke is the author of Acts and he uses the we – “they delivered Paul and certain other prisoners unto one named Julius, a centurion of Augustus’ band. And entering into a ship of Adramyttium,” – that is the port to which the ship was attached – “we put to sea, meaning to sail by the coasts of Asia; one Aristarchus, a Macedonian of Thessalonica, being with us. And the next day we touched at Sidon.” And they were at Caesarea. Sidon was 70 miles up the coast of Israel, not very far away at all. “They touched at Sidon, and this is interesting- “and Julius” – Julius being the commander of the centurion of the Augustus’ band – “courteously entreated Paul, and gave him liberty to go unto his friends to refresh himself.”
Now, as I read that I was amazed. Paul is a prisoner. Paul is not only a prisoner, he is an important prisoner. He is a prisoner who is highly resented by the Jewish population in Jerusalem, and his disposition could have volatile ramifications for Rome. He’s not somebody they want running loose around the land of Palestine. They also, knowing him to be a Roman citizen, must have felt some responsibility to protect him from some who would have taken his life. So he was a very important prisoner, And a prisoner is not somebody you let run loose.
But what is amazing to me is that in verse 3, one day after they have left, and they land at Sidon, Julius lets Paul go into town to meet his friends to refresh himself. How amazing. “Paul you’ve been on the ship all day; go see your friends.” He’s a prisoner, political prisoner. And there I see the first characteristic of a real leader beginning to emerge. A leader is trusted. He’s trusted. Somehow, in one day, Paul had convinced Julius that he was trustworthy.
Now, do you know something? What happened to a Roman soldier who lost a prisoner? He lost his life, didn’t he? That’s why the Philippian jailer took out a sword when the jail fell down in the earthquake and was going to run himself through and commit suicide. He figured suicide would be better than the Roman execution that would come as a result of him losing his prisoners, even if they got out in an earthquake.
A Roman soldier loses a prisoner, he loses his life. And yet, here is a Roman soldier, Julius, and this guy is letting Paul go loose after one day. You say, “How in the world would he have done that?” Only one way: he trusted him, he trusted him. He sent him to his friends that they might refresh him. Boy, that’s amazing. He must’ve had great, great trust.
There’s something else I see here and that is this: his friends also must have trusted him. You know, it would have been easy for them to say, Oh, that Paul, he’s a prisoner. I wonder what he did,” and begin to downgrade him and not consider him their friend anymore. You see, he’d been a prisoner for a long time now, over two years. They could well have written him off, but they were still his friends, because after two years they still trusted him no matter what the circumstances looked like, and even though it might’ve looked like he’d blown it. After all, you don’t like to run around with criminals.
Here’s a centurion who trusted him in one day, and here’s a bunch of Christians who trust him two years later, even though during those two years he’s been considered a criminal. They never lost their confidence.
And I believe, people, that the primary thing with a leader is that he’s trusted. You’d be surprised what people will do if they believe in you, if they really trust you. Parents, you’d be surprised what your children would do. You people that teach a class or lead a Bible study, you people that have any responsibility of leadership in business or anywhere else, you would be amazed what people would do if they trusted you. You say, “Well, what are you saying, John?” I’m saying this - and I’ll translate the word trust into a concept for you - they have the confidence that you still have their best interests in your heart.
Do you know what Julius believed? If I can see this in the text, Julius believed that Paul would never do anything that would result in Julius being hurt. Did you get that? People will trust a leader when they believe that that leader has their best interest at heart. And I guess what you’re really saying is that, if you’re really going to lead, you have to lead from the vantage point of being a servant.
Paul says in 1 Corinthians 4, “When it’s all said and done, let it be said of us that we were the hupēretēs of Christ,” - the under-rowers, the third-level galley slaves. “Let it be said of us that we were servants.” In 1 Corinthians 3, he says, “What are we but servants?” Jesus said, “Even I came not to be ministered unto” – but to what? – “but to serve and minister.”
You see, you lead from the vantage point of service, and people believe you have their best interest in your heart and they will trust you. As soon as people begin to believe – now watch this one – that you have you in your heart, they’ll cease to trust you. They’ll begin to feel they are being used for you to accomplish your own ends. And so a leader must - and I say it firmly - must be trusted. And the way he is trusted is because the people who follow believe with their whole heart that in his heart is their interest; and when they stop believing that, it’s all over. It’s so shattering to wake up one day and find that somebody you really felt cared for you didn’t.
You know, I have on my ordination certificate the first name there, the first man’s name that signed my ordination. Patted me on the back, shook my hand, “Congratulations, young man, God’s going to use you.” He was a pastor of a church in Los Angeles. His people really trusted him. Boy, the church grew, it was a growing church. Everybody knew about his ministry. People used to go over there to talk to him about how to do it.
Then all of a sudden one day it was found out that he’d been having illicit relationships with no less than five different women. And you know what? All those people realized he was fulfilling only the desires of one heart, and that was his, to the expense of his family and his entire church. He could have cared less about them. He actually denied the faith, left the ministry, and wound up teaching philosophy at USC. I think he’s still there. He didn’t have their interests in his heart; and the day they found it out, he was gone.
See, a leader must be trusted; and to be trusted is to be believed in, because you have a servant’s heart.
In Matthew chapter 20, verse 25: “Jesus called them unto Him, and said, ‘You know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority over them.’” He says, “Boy, you know how the Gentile leaders do it? Wham. They use authority. They are dictators.”
Watch verse 26: “But it shall not be so among you. Whosoever will be great among you, let him be your” – what? – “servant. Whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant. For even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and give His life a ransom for many.” Don’t you see the difference? The world’s leadership is dominant dictatorship; the Christian’s leadership is sweet service. And the people who believe you really have their interest at heart will trust you and follow. Paul convinced a man in one day.
Secondly, Acts 27, the second principle of leadership pops out of verses 4 through 10. This is so fascinating. Watch this: “And when we had put to sea” – this is after the little visit in Sidon. This story gets fascinating as we go. “And when we had put to sea from there, we sailed under the lee of Cyprus,” – I’m not going to deal with all of the nautical terms, I just want to get the main point. You can get the tapes on Acts 27; we did that. But – “we sailed under the lee of Cyprus, because the winds were contrary. And when we had sailed over the sea of Cilicia and Pamphylia,” – on the southern coast of Galicia – “we came to Myra,” – incidentally, Myra was a chief port serving Egyptian ships and Egypt was the granary of Italy. And so there were many ships there that would be loaded with grain transported from Egypt to Italy.
So they “came to Myra, a city of Lycia” – all in that territory of the southern part of Galicia and Asia minor and so forth, that area – “And there the centurion” – that’s Julius, the one mentioned in the other verse – “found a ship of Alexandria sailing into Italy; and he put us on board,” - they had to have a transfer here to find a ship going further west to Italy - “put us on board. When we had sailed slowly many days, and scarcely were come off Cnidus, the wind not permitting us, we sailed under the lee of Crete, off Salmone; and, passing it with difficulty, came unto a place which is called fair havens; near to which was the city of Lasea.”
Now, all that just to say they’re progressing rather slowly. They just couldn’t seem to get too far and they kept stopping all the time. Finally, they get to fair havens. Now, watch what happens. All the folderol that’s going on in fair havens, trying to negotiate over whatever was on that ship and trying to buy a cargo or dump a cargo or something, took time.
And so, in verse 9, “When much time was spent, and when sailing was now dangerous,” – by the way, this was perhaps, in my chronology, somewhere between September 14th and November 11th, which was the dangerous season for sailing the Mediterranean, somewhere what we would know as fall - “because the fast was now already past,” – watch this – “Paul admonished them.” You say, Paul? Well, what does he have to do with it? He’s a prisoner.
Here’s the second principle of leadership. Leaders always take the initiative. Leaders always take the initiative. “And he said to them, ‘Sirs, I perceive that this voyage will be with injury and much damage, not only of the cargo and ship, but also of our lives.’” We’ll stop there.
He says, “Look, guys, we can’t leave now. It’s the time of danger; we can’t leave. I perceive if we do, we’re going to have a lot of trouble.” Now you say, “Why doesn’t Paul just sit down in the hole and keep his mouth shut? Who’s he? Why don’t you just be a good prisoner, fellow? What are you yelling about? We’ve got a lot of other prisoners on this ship. In fact, this ship was literally jammed full of people. There weren’t just six or eight people on here.”
In fact, in verse 37, it says in the ship there were 276 souls; and there weren’t any souls without bodies, so there were 276 people. “There are 276 people on this ship. Who are you, fellow?” But he says, “I perceive, gentlemen, that we need to proceed in a certain” – and what’s he doing is taking initiative. And, you know something? You can always spot a leader, because that’s what he does. It’s the mark of a leader. Even though he’s ranked in a place of subordination, he takes the initiative. And once Paul took the initiative on this trip he never gave it up again.
Imagine a situation like this. This is a true story. In 444 B.C., the situation of Jerusalem was terrible; the city was in destruction. It had lain in destruction and waste for over 150 years - the beloved city of God, Jerusalem. The Jewish people had been back from captivity for over 80 years. But the job of rebuilding the wall, as we saw when we studied Zechariah, and the main city had never really been finished. But there was a man named Nehemiah, and Nehemiah took the initiative. Nehemiah was over there still in Babylon and he said one day to himself, “I’ve got to get over there and do something about that.” Took the initiative.
Now, let me give you five principles of taking the initiative. How do you do it? Principle Number One - we’ll use Nehemiah. Read the book of Nehemiah and you’ll see it all there. First of all, Nehemiah – and here’s the first principle of taking initiative: he identified with the need. Leadership has a way of crystalizing the problem and realizing the need. “There’s a need over there. There’s a problem over there. We’ve got to solve that problem.” So he realized the need.
Second, capturing the initiative means not only do you identify the need and identify with the need, but, secondly, you come up with a solution. And Nehemiah made a plan, and he went to the king and he proposed it.
The third thing a leader does in taking the initiative is he takes action. That’s what Nehemiah did. He got the okay, and off he went to do what he wanted to do: to rebuild that city. He identified with the need, came up with a solution, took action.
Number Four: He delegated responsibility. He delegated responsibility. He set families up. He said, “You families go over here; you families here. You family build this wall. You’re part of this family, you build this wall.” He had families all delegated to build every part of the wall. He delegated authority.
And, fifthly, taking the initiative involves, finally, working alongside the people. In Nehemiah 5:16 it says, “I also held to the work on the wall and acquired no land.” “I didn’t run around building my own bank account. I didn’t run around buying land. I took my trowel and my sword and I built with the people.”
Now, watch this. Taking the initiative means this: you see a need, you personalize that need, and you feel the anxiety of that need. You develop a solution, you take an action, you delegate responsibility, and you move in right alongside the people who are finishing it up. That’s really what a leader is, somebody who takes the initiative.
If you see a need - maybe it’s at the church, maybe it’s in your home, maybe it’s in a Bible study group, maybe it’s in an Acts class, maybe it’s in your business, I don’t know, wherever it is - exercising leadership means taking the initiative to solve the problem, and Nehemiah is a perfect example.
Now, he had incredible opposition. Nehemiah, chapter 4, tells us about the opposition. They ridiculed him. They conspired against him. They tried to discourage him. There was an incredible amount of greed going on. There was deceit and craft to try to stop it. But once he took the initiative, he never gave it up. The Bible says in 52 days he built the entire wall, something the Israelites couldn’t do in 80 years without him, 52 days. That’s a leader.
A leader is respected, because he is trusted, first of all. Secondly, a leader takes the initiative. Do you know what I need to see in the church, what I pray to God we would see in the church? Is less critics and more initiators. It’s easy to sit back and say, “Wow, this isn’t going right over here. Well, this isn’t the way it ought to be.” We can all play that game. But what we need are people to say, “Say, there’s a need. I’m going to identify that need,” come up with a solution, move out, delegate responsibility, work alongside until it’s right. Thank God for that.
Now, in our ministry here, that’s the kind of people we look for. You say, “Where do we get our staff, and where do we get our elders, and where do we get people of leadership?” We watch and see who initiates. That’s leadership. It doesn’t matter what the rank is or the position.
People say to me, “Wow, your church is so big. I don’t think I’d come there, because I’ve always been a leader in my church. But if I come there, why, you have so many other leaders, I don’t know if I’d ever be seen.” Oh, you’d be seen. Plenty of things aren’t being done here, plenty of things you could initiate. We’d see.
The third thing - I like this - verse 9, again. The third thing about a leader is he uses good judgment. In verse 9, “Now when much time was spent, and sailing was now dangerous,” – as we saw – “because the fast was already past,” – it was between September 14th and November 11th – “Paul said, ‘Hey, sirs, we’re going to have problems if we go: injury, damage, et cetera.”
Now, a leader is usually not a gambler in the essential things, he is careful. He may take a calculated risk, but he’s not a pure gambler. He doesn’t trust luck. He doesn’t say, “Well, let’s go at it guys and wish for the best.” A leader uses good judgment.
I would venture to say that this is the greatest fear, the greatest tension of the ministry for me. It’s not that I’m going to all of a sudden lose my voice and won’t be able to preach. It’s not that I’m all of a sudden going to rob a bank, commit some crime or some immoral act. That isn’t it. The greatest fear I have in the ministry is that I would do something stupid, and everybody would say, “We can’t follow that guy. Next time we’ll all follow him off the pier.”
And you know something? In the brief years of my ministry and counseling with pastor after pastor after pastor, the most common reason that men fail in the pastorate is not because of a moral problem. It’s not because of their preaching. It’s not because they don’t visit or do whatever their church expects. It’s because they don’t use good judgment. They run off too fast in certain things without really considering the cost. They need to be cautious. They need to be careful. They need to be sensitive. They need to seek wise counsel. So very, very important.
In fact, I remember when I went through this about eight years ago here. How was I going to really be sure I wouldn’t do too many stupid things? I had a history of stupid things, really. I was no great success. Two things came to my heart in those days. One was there is wisdom in much counsel.
The first meeting I ever had with the elders of Grace Church I determined that I wasn’t ever going to make any major decision, period, by myself, and I dragged them in on the first one and it was a biggie. Some of you may remember. And I said, “Hey, guys, if we die, we die together. I’m not going out there all alone.” That’s the first thing. And the Bible is just loaded with texts about the fact that we seek wise counsel - Proverbs, many times, many times.
And the second thing was this: I determined that I would never initiate anything that I didn’t think was already being initiated by the Holy Spirit, so that whatever I was moving into, the Spirit of God was already in and I was safe; because, you know, I had seen so many guys in the ministry come up with great plans and they’d invent these great ideas. “Man, I’ve got a fabulous program. I’ve got a new this; I’ve got a new that. And we’re going to do this.” And they’d spend weeks and months on this program. They’d get it all organized. They’d get 25 people in there and ”bsss” right down the drain. And the people would say, “You know, this guy wastes all his time doing these things that never work.”
I was reading Acts, chapter 6, and, boy, it hit me. In Acts chapter 6, it says there was a little argument in the early church; and the argument was because the Grecian widows - that is, the non-Jerusalem widows - were not getting as much food as the Jerusalem widows. There was a little preference there. And so they said, “Hey, you apostles, we’re not getting our fair share of the food.” The apostles said, “Fine. Choose out from among you men full of the Holy Spirit, deacons, and appoint them over that.” That’s the first statement in the New Testament about the organization of the church.
Do you want to hear what’s interesting? The church only organized to accommodate a ministry that was already going on. Did you get that? The ministry to the widows was spontaneous. And when the church was born they began to share and they began to minister, and it wasn’t until it hit a snag that the church came in and helped to organize it. And I determined there are two things. Number one, do it with a bunch of other people so you’ll all go together; and, number two, don’t ever do it until you believe God’s already begun it, see. So far, so good. In the nine years we’ve been here, we’ve just been jumping in on what God’s already been doing. You’ve got to use some wisdom, some sound judgment in leadership.
And I think another thing. People always say to me, “Well, John, if you go to a church to pastor, or you go to do a Bible study, or a class, or some kind of ministry, and it just isn’t the way it ought to be, what do you do? Do you just go in there and turn it all around, and grab it by the neck and, you know?” No. I always say just go in there and very lovingly and gently begin to teach the passages of Scripture that relate to the issue until God begins to work in their hearts, and let God change it through the Word. Use good judgment. As a leader, you’re not allowed too many mistakes without a breakdown in confidence. So, a leader is trusted, a leader takes the initiative, and a leader uses good judgment.
Fourth, Paul used good judgment here. I mean I don’t think I even need to argue about it, that’s obvious. But let’s go on a little bit in the narrative.
Verse 11: “Nevertheless the centurion believed the master” – literally, in the Greek, the pilot – “and the captain of the ship,” – who would be two different people perhaps – “more than those things spoken by Paul.”
“Hmm, Well, that seems okay. I mean you would too, wouldn’t you? Wouldn’t you believe the pilot and the captain of the ship before you’d believe some guy down in the hole who was a prisoner yelling up to the deck, ‘Hey, I don’t think we ought to go’?” “Shut up, fellow. What do you have to do with it? It’s too late in the year.” You’d believe him too. So the centurion, what does he know? He says, “Let’s go.”
“Because the haven was not commodious to winter in,” - in other words, it wasn’t such a hot place to spend the winter – “the greater part advised to depart from there also.” What was the decision made on? Majority rule. Bad way, in many cases. “And so they decided to depart from there, if by any means they might attain to Phenice,” – not Phoenix, Arizona. It would have been nice to spend the winter in Phoenix, but that was a little far. Anyway – “they might attain to Phenice, and there to winter; which is a haven on the island of Crete, and lies toward the southwest and northwest. And when the south wind blew softly,” – oh man, it looked so good – “supposing that they had obtained their purpose, they loose from there and sailed to close by Crete.” Everything was great. The south wind was just humming along so beautifully. You see, it wasn’t the south wind they were afraid of. It was the north wind; and as long as it was a south wind - just great.
“But not long after, there arose against it a tempestuous wind, called Euraquilo or Euroclydon.” Now, this was not what they had planned, this is exactly what Paul anticipated. You see, he knew. He was wise. He used careful judgment. “And when the ship was caught, and couldn’t bear up into the wind, we let her drive.” In other words, they couldn’t fight the wind to stay on course. They just threw the sail up and let the wind take the ship.
“And running under the lee of a certain island which is called Clauda, we had much work to secure the boat.” And that means the dinghy. There was a dinghy attached, and they had a difficult time securing it. They used to drag the dinghy behind the big ship with a rope. And if they couldn’t hang onto it, they were afraid to lose it, because if you lost the dinghy, you were in a lot of trouble. Because then if you had an accident or something, you had no way to get out of the boat and to secure yourself in another ship. So they needed it.
But they could hardly secure it, verse 17, “Which when they had hoisted it,” – they finally just pulled it on board – “they used helps, undergirding the ship.” Now, this was an old custom they had called frapping the ship, f-r-a-p-p-i-n-g, frapping the ship. And what it was, was they had these great bands of rope that were around the hull. They literally put them around the hull, tied them to a winch, and pulled them together, because the only thing that held the ship together was pegs. And so they would frap the ship, literally winching ropes to pull it to tie it together, so that it would be tight, because otherwise it would just shatter in the storm. And so, they’re really panicky. They hoisted the dinghy. They frapped the ship.
“And they feared lest they should sail into the Syrtis” – it says quicksand in yours, but it was the Syrtis. And the Syrtis, incidentally, is the graveyard of ships on the North African coast.
Now, you know the land of Israel and how it comes down like this, and then North Africa is across here; and they were up here. And the north wind would come and it would blow that ship right onto the reef, right onto the Syrtis - called the quicksand here - and it would just smash that ship. And there have been, throughout history, remnants of ships in that area because, that’s exactly what happens when those tempestuous north winds began to blow. The ship can’t hold its course and it is blown into the Syrtis; and there it is destroyed, and the men are drowned.
And so, with this great fear they struck sail. That is, they lowered their gear and they were driven by the storm.
“And being exceedingly tossed with a tempest, the next day they lightened the ship; and the third day we cast out” – Luke says – “with our own hands the tackle of the ship,” - all of the things they needed to sail it. “And when neither sun nor stars in many days appeared, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope that we should be saved was then taken away.” And by this time somebody is saying, “What was that prisoner’s name down there? Didn’t he say something about this was what was going to happen?” And the confidence in Paul is probably beginning to build.
In verse 21, Paul realizes it’s time. “After being long without food, Paul stood forth in the midst of them.” Now all of a sudden there aren’t any prisoners and there aren’t any soldiers and there aren’t any sailors, there’s a bunch of desperate men on a ship fighting for their lives. And Paul pops up and said, “Sirs, you should have hearkened unto me,” - don’t you hate those kind of people, Monday morning quarterbacks – “and not have left Crete, and gained this harm and loss. I told you so.” And he reinforces his credibility.
And I like this: “And now I exhort you to be of good cheer; for there shall be no loss of any man’s life among you, but only of the ship.” I always liked that: “Nobody will drown, we’ll just lose the ship. Right, and we’ll all just float around the Mediterranean.”
“Well, How do you know that, Paul?” “Oh, there stood by me this night an angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve, and he said, ‘Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar. And, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee.’” Isn’t that great? He says, “Hey, everybody, calm down. It’s all going to be fine, because God has spoken it.”
You know what those dear people needed then? They needed just what Paul did. It’s the fourth principle of leadership: He spoke with authority. He spoke with authority; you know, boldness. You say, “How come he could be so bold?” Number one, he knew his subject; and, number two, he meant it. You know, that’s what you’ve got to have in the pulpit. That’s what you’ve got to have when you teach the Bible: authority.
In Matthew chapter 7, verse 29, they said of Jesus, “He speaks as one” – what? – “having authority.” And, boy, that was new; He knew His subject and He meant it. And Paul says, “Listen, I know my subject; God told me. And I mean this is really going to happen,” and he could speak with authority.
You know, that’s why I can speak with authority. If somebody came up to me and said, “Well, what do you think about the Panama Canal situation?” I’d say, “Oh.” In fact, a guy asked me, “What do you think about whether we ought to . . . Panama Canal or . . . oh?”
I remember when I was in Panama City one time. The bugs were really bad there. They had these little things on the streets that kill the bugs, “Zzzz,” you know, they get them. And that’s all I remember about it. I don’t know. I suppose – I don’t know.
Somebody says to me, “What do you think about immorality?” “I’ll tell you what I think about immorality. It’s says here in the Word” – see, it’s a whole different ball game. Why? Because I know that subject, and I mean it because I have an authority. People are looking for an authority. Do you know that?
What kind of thing would have been accomplished if Paul had gotten up and said, “Fellows, I think we might make it.” See, that didn’t help. Listen, if you have the truth, speak it with authority, right? There’s nothing to be ashamed of to speak authoritatively when you know the truth. And you ought to mean it. A leader ought to speak with authority. And if you’re going to speak with authority, you better be sure your authority is God, right? Paul spoke with authority. Ah, that’s so good.
Jesus said, “All authority is given unto Me.” And then he passed it onto us; how great. Paul spoke with confidence. Paul spoke with conviction based on the Word of God to him that night. And, beloved, if you’re a leader, then speak with authority. You don’t have to pussyfoot around or mouse around about God’s truth, speak it.
You know, it’s amazing. You get a bunch of people in a discussion, for example, on the subject of cancer - one is a mechanic, one is a preacher, one is a housewife, and one is a surgeon - everybody will doubt everything the first three say and believe everything the surgeon says, because he speaks as one with authority. People put their trust in people who they believe have authority. That’s part of leadership. And it’s not bullying around, it’s exercising a soft kind of authority predicated on the knowledge of the truth. If you know it’s right, stand on it. That’s leadership. Paul says to Timothy, in 1 Timothy 4:11, he says, listen, “These things” – I love this – “command and teach.”
We were talking the other day in a staff meeting and somebody says, “Well, yeah, it does appear that God does suggest that in the Scripture.” And somebody said, “Do you think God really suggests? I mean do we have the ten suggestions or the Ten Commandments? Do you ever hear God say, ‘I’d like to share something with you? I have a thought; It might be worth your consideration. Thus sayeth the Lord.’” If it’s true in the Bible and you believe it, speak it with authority. That’s leadership.
Let’s go to a fifth principle. By being confident and speaking with authority, it’s amazing how you, fifthly, strengthen others, and it’s another characteristic of leadership: strengthen others. This can also be used in a bad way, you know. Hitler did this, spoke with authority and got a whole nation to be feeling that they were invincible.
Verse 22, he says, “I exhort you, be of good cheer.” And he goes on and on and on. And then he says again in verse 25, “Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer; for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me.” And what really happens is he’s pouring out all of this authority and it’s just going right into the people he’s trying to lead, and they’re beginning to feel better about everything - still in the same mess, but feeling better.
You know, basically there are three types of people leaders have to deal with: 1 Thessalonians 5:14. Are you ready for this? Three types that you have to kind of build up. Number one, it says, “We exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly.” The first are the unruly. Do you know what the unruly people are? They’re the people who don’t know where the limits are. They’re all over the place. And for them, you say, “Now, my friend, let me build you some fences. This is what is permissible. You can’t go outside, I have to warn you; because if you do, problems.” So, you warn the unruly. You help build fences for the unruly. And, you know, they’re wanting to live all the time at the very edge, running out to the edge, and playing with every little thing on the edge. So you have to draw some parameters.
Then, secondly, he says, in 1 Thessalonians 5:14, “Encourage the faint hearted.” Now, that’s the opposite. They’re the people huddled in the middle for fear they might come to the edge. They’re the legalists. Oh, they don’t want to try anything. And so, when you’re working with people, you’ve got to keep some people from running amok and you’ve got to get some people moving. So, you’ve got the unruly, the faint-hearted, the timid who need to be pushed, and then you’ve got the weak. And the weak are those who need special attention in some area.
So a leader has to strengthen others. Strengthening the unruly means drawing some parameters, some limits; strengthening the faint hearted means pushing them out to do some adventuring; and strengthening the weak means to give attention to their weakness, to build them in that area. And Paul was able to do that; by his great confidence, by his great boldness strengthened others. So, a leader is respected and trusted, he takes the initiative, uses good judgment, speaks with authority, and strengthens other.
Sixth - I like this; this comes out of the same few verses - he is optimistic and enthusiastic. Somebody said to me this morning, and they meant it as a compliment, and I took it that way. They said to me, “You know, it’s really good to have you back. Not that what you have to say is any better than anybody else, but it’s just the way you say it with such enthusiasm.” Well, that’s good. I want to be enthusiastic.
I had an article here, I’m going to give it to you. It’s entitled Get Hot, written by a lady here, and it was in the paper. It says, “I’ve just been talking with Lorraine and she left me feeling like last year’s bird nest, all hollow and raveled. You’ve met people like Lorraine, haven’t you? Sure you have, millions of them. They’re so common, in fact, that they threaten to become a national epidemic.
“What’s the matter with them? Are they in great trouble? Not any more than the average citizen. Sick? Nope. Crushed by grief, remorse, or sorrow? Hardly ever. Then what in time ails them? The oldest blight on earth: they lack enthusiasm.
“Were they born that way? No, indeed. Would vitamins cure them? Not a chance. They’re as healthy as a Texas Longhorn. But something back in their beginning, too much petting or too little, too much push button service maybe, or a couple of robot parents has all resulted in their present lackadaisical state.
And the worst of it is they don’t know it.
Not one in a million realize there’s a deep a deep and dismal lack in his or her personality. Placidly they drift along viewing this chaotic world without curiosity or excitement, eating their three meals per, sleeping their eight hours peacefully, going about their accustomed chores with never a rise in their blood pressure, just a bunch of contented cows. And all the while this teaming world is filled with challenges and adventures, tall dreams, soaring experiments, heartwarming beauty and gallantry, and it all leaves the limp lizzies cold.
“Outside of going to the dentist once a year they refuse to be moved; and they get downright peevish if you try to make them spark. ‘But they can’t help it,’ someone protests, ‘they’re just born that way. We can’t all be jumping around like grasshoppers. Some of us are quiet and some of us aren’t.’ Quite true, neighbor but we can all learn enthusiasm. No one is born enthusiastic. You alone can make yourself interested in the world around you.” And she goes on and on.
It says at the end, “Stop pawing over your little accumulation of personal memories and gripes. Look at the wonders that are waiting outside. Get eager and curious. Get excited. Get hot.” Sounds like a football coach. I guess a little enthusiasm is good in this world.
I don’t know about you, but if I’m a Christian I’m enthusiastic; and if I have the privilege of preaching the Word of God, the unsearchable riches of Jesus Christ, I couldn’t help but be enthusiastic. And Paul is that way. He doesn’t just say, “Now, gentlemen, I want you to know that everything will be well.”
I was at a Bible conference with a preacher like that. He got up and he was going to teach on - one of his lessons was on “the joys of the spiritual life.” He started out by saying - I can almost mimic him. He says, “My dear friends, I would like to speak to you on the joys of the spiritual life.” [Snoring]
When Paul talks to them he says, “Be of good cheer. Let’s have a party here. Let’s get excited about this.” If you’re going to lead somebody, you’ve got to be enthusiastic, see. That’s optimism, isn’t it?
Paul says in Acts 27, “I’m in a hurry to Rome - I mean to Jerusalem. I’ve got to get to Jerusalem.” And somebody says, “Well, what are you in a hurry about?” “Well, I’ve got to accomplish the ministry that Christ has given me there.” “Yeah. But what’s going to happen when you get there?” “Oh, chains and afflictions await me. But that’s all right; I’ve got to finish the ministry.” Enthusiastic. So a good leader’s respected, he takes the initiative, uses good judgment, speaks with authority, strengthens others, and is endlessly optimistic and enthusiastic.
Seventh: A good leader never compromises his absolutes. He never compromises his absolutes. Now watch. He says, “However, we must be cast on a certain island” – verse 26. “But when the fourteenth night was come,” – that’s a long time – “and we were driven up and down in Adria, at midnight the sailors deemed that they drew near to some country.” Boy, they hadn’t seen anything for weeks.
“They sounded, and found it twenty fathoms; and when they had gone a little further, they sounded again, and found it fifteen fathoms,” - which means it’s getting shallower, so they’re approaching land and they’re going to be dashed to bits. “Then fearing lest we should have fallen upon rocks, they cast four anchors out of the stern, and wished for the day.” They threw four anchors out just to hold the ship still. They threw them out of the back, the stern, just to hold it still, and prayed for daylight.
“And as the sailors were about to flee out of the ship, when they had let down the boat into the sea,” – in other words, they dropped the dinghy and they were going to leave the ship – “under the pretense as though they would have cast anchors out of the foreship.” Portending to put anchors out of the front of the ship, they really were lowering the dinghy to try to escape. The sailors were trying to escape. Now, you’re in a lot of trouble when the crew leaves.
“And Paul said to the centurion and to the soldiers, “Except these abide in the ship, you can’t be saved.” “Listen, there is a rule here. God says you’ll all be saved only if you stay in the ship.” And you know what, those soldiers cut the ropes of the boat and let it go, and everybody stayed.
And there’s a simple principle. Paul said, “There’s a rule here. This is the way God set it up. We can’t compromise it.” Leadership never compromises its absolutes. There may be some things that you can work around, but you never compromise your absolutes. And I believe every person has to determine what his absolutes are. Every one of us has to determine the truths of the Word of God that we stand on, and you can’t compromise them.
There’s always that temptation. The Word of God teaches a certain thing about something, but the person is so nice, you just don’t want to enforce the word of God. You can’t compromise. As soon as you begin to compromise, you begin to lose your integrity. And as soon as you lose your integrity, you lose your following.
You must determine what absolutes there are. You must determine a righteous standard. You must determine what is right for the thing you’re leading, the thing you’re doing, and never compromise that thing. And when you start compromising, you give away your character. And when you give away your character, you give away your soul. And when you give away your soul, you’ve given away yourself. So a leader never compromises on absolutes. What is true is always true and always held to be true.
Now, let me just wrap up by giving you a few others here, just quickly. This is number eight - I love this: A leader focuses on objectives, not obstacles. Verse 33: “And while the day was coming on, Paul besought them all to take food, saying, ‘This day is the fourteenth day that ye have tarried and continued fasting, having taken nothing.’” Nothing. They haven’t eaten for fourteen days. “Wherefore I beseech you to take some food; for this is for your health; for there shall not an hair fall from the head of any of you.”
Paul never even thought; he never even thought about the storm. He never even thought about the problems. He said, “Hey, guys, we’ve got to eat here so we can handle this thing when it comes.” He had seen clear past the obstacles to what was going to happen. He wasn’t worried about the storm. He wasn’t worried about the shipwreck. He just wanted to make sure they were all in good health when they got to shore, so they could swim in and feel good.
That’s the way it is with a leader. A leader is like a good hurdler. He never looks at a hurdle, he just sees the finish line. And the hurdle is not something that distracts you at all, you just glide right over them. He always looks at the results, not at the road getting there.
Well, you know, you can say, “Well, there’s something we ought to do; but, oh, man, it’s so hard to get that done. It’s so hard to accomplish that. I don’t know if we could ever get everybody to cooperate. Oh, oh, oh.” Yeah. A leader just sees the objective, the obstacles are just something you move around to get there.
And then here’s the key to it all: Leadership leads by example. Verse 34: “Paul having told them all they ought to eat says, ‘I beseech you to take some food; for this is for your health; for there shall not any hair fall from the head of any of you. And when he had thus spoken,” – what? – “he took bread, and gave thanks to God in presence of them all. And when he had broken it, he” – what? – “began to eat.” He set the pattern.
And, people, here’s the key to everything; I really believe this: Leadership leads by example. Leadership leads by example. That’s what I said this morning. The apostle Paul said, “The things that you have learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me” – what? – “do”.
Leadership leads by example. He said to the Corinthians, “Be ye followers of me as I am of Christ.” Paul said to Timothy, “Be an example of the believers.” Peter said to the elders, “Be an example.” The writer of Hebrews said to the congregation of Hebrews, “You look at those who have the rule over you whose faith you are to follow.” Just living the life and being the example: mom and dad being the pattern of godliness to your children; teacher in a class being the godly pattern to that class of little kids, or adults, or youth. You who have a responsibility in any kind of leadership in the church, in any way, shape, or form, you are to be a model of godliness by which they can pattern their lives.
You see, God can only work through human models, and that’s what He’s chosen to do. And so the leader leads by example. And so, Paul takes the food and he’s the first one to eat. Have you noticed something all the way through this? I just love this. Have you noticed that since we’ve started into this trip, Paul’s got everybody else doing everything? He’s got soldiers cutting ropes, and somebody getting the food, and somebody passing it out.
In verse 36 it says, “They all ate, everybody had a wonderful meal, and there were 276 souls.” Have you noticed how he’s got everybody doing everything? That’s number ten in my little list: A leader activates people. He’s got everybody working, everybody involved, everybody doing things.
Beloved Paul would go into a city – I love this – he’d go to Thessalonica. You know he’d be there two weeks, two weeks. And when he left town, there was a church established; not just a church, but a church whose testimony in a few months sounded out through all Macedonia and Achaia and all over the world. In two weeks, he had raised up leadership and entrusted in it, and it came through. He knew how to delegate.
Moses’ father-in-law came to him one time and said, in Exodus, chapter 18, he says, “Moses, you’ve got to be smarter than you are, fellow. You can’t be the only leader in Israel, you’ve got to divide it up. You’ve got to have somebody over thousands, and somebody over hundreds, and somebody over tens.” And they organized a whole bunch of leadership. Read it, Exodus 18. Leadership is able to delegate authority. It must.
Well, what happened in result of all this? Listen. Verse 38: “And when they had eaten enough, they lightened the ship, and cast out the wheat into the sea. And when it was day, they recognized not the land.” They were shocked. It wasn’t what they thought.
“They discovered a certain creek with a shore, into which they were minded, if it were possible, to thrust in the ship. And when they had taken up the anchors, they committed themselves to the sea, loosed the rudder bands,” – let the rudder go free – “hoisted the mainsail to the wind, and made toward shore. And falling into a place where two seas met,” – two current crossing there – “they ran the ship aground; the bow stuck fast, remained unmovable, and the stern was broken” - or shattered – “with the violence of the waves. And the soldiers’ counsel was to kill the prisoners, lest any of them should swim out, and escape,” – because if they escaped, they’d lose their life. “But the centurion, willing to save Paul, kept them from their purpose; and commanded that they who could swim should cast themselves first into the sea, and get to land; and the rest, some on boards, and some on pieces of the ship.” I love it. “It came to pass, they all escaped safely to the land.”
Do you want to know something about a leader like this? He succeeds. Did you notice that? He succeeds. Paul rose from the place of a prisoner to the place of a leader. He manifested trust, initiative, good judgment, authority in his speaking. He’s strengthened others. He was enthusiastic and optimistic. He never compromised on his absolutes. He focused on objectives rather than obstacles. He led by example. He delegated responsibility and, in the end, he succeeded; and they all got to shore. There’s no question in my mind that all those people took a good, long look at this prisoner, and probably said, He’s quite a man.”
God needs leaders. God needs leaders in every dimension with his work. These are the principles. You look at them and you say like I do: “Boy, I’m a long way from fulfilling all these.” I know you feel like that, because I feel like that. But it’s nice to know what the goals are, isn’t it?
I pray, God, that out of this congregation of you beloved people, He’ll raise up more and more leaders to carry on His work. Well, I hope this has been helpful for you tonight. Let’s pray together.
Father, we thank You that You’ve been in our midst tonight. And as we’ve shared even this lengthy sharing time, You’ve really blessed, because we’ve focused again on what is so needful in Your church, that we’d be the kind of leaders You want us to be. I bring myself to You, first of all, because I fall short of these things as I see them manifest in Paul and in the Word of God. And, yet, these are the things I want so much to be, in the right balance, that I might lead in a way that would represent Your leading through me.
And then, Father, there are elders here on the staff, people ministering as staff people, in positions of leadership. They too need to lead according to Your pattern. May it be so in their life. And then there are elders, and deacons, and deaconesses, and teachers, and workers, and Bible study leaders, and they lead too. Father, may they also lead with a great desire in their hearts to move toward these kinds of principles.
And then, Father, there are, perhaps, many people who do not yet have positions of leadership, but latent in their hearts is that divine calling to a place of direction and leadership. May they now begin to prepare. Perhaps, some of them are older folks; perhaps, some young people.
God, raise up leadership for Your church here, for Your church around the world, for the needy, crying mission fields. Raise up great leaders, not great in their own strength, but great in You. Raise up great pastors, and elders, and deacons, and deaconesses, and great teachers, among the men and the women. And may this church in the days and the years to come be, as it were, a spawning pool for the birth and the growth of leaders who can go into Your world and do Your work in Your way.
And we’ll all thank You and praise You in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Well, God bless you all. You’ve been patient with me tonight, and I love you for that; you always are. You’ve been patient with me as your leader in many ways, and I thank you too. And I wish you’d pray for us and all of us who lead. Let’s pray for each other; even for you that are moms and dads leading that little tribe at home. That’s tough, isn’t it? Really tough. Let’s be the kind of leaders God wants us to be.