His sermons were over their heads. His opinionated views alienated his colleagues. Coworkers found him boastful, even arrogant. A physical disability drove him to over-function in ministry. Religious leaders found him to be a rude – definitely not a team player. When he attended a ministry conference you could always expect fireworks. The first two congregations he pastored rejected his leadership, and, unable to calm their internal strife and bickering, he went on to a third. And his church planting scheme used under-trained, under-aged outsiders as pastors. By some measures of success, his ministry was a failure. This was no mythical pastor…
This was the Apostle Paul.
He knew, clearly the difference between seeking man’s Approval vs. gaining the their Respect. He was who he was – without apology or compromise. Perhaps seen as a failure in his day, but certainly not in ours. Lonely at times but never alone. He lived for the applause of Heaven and wouldn’t water-down his message or life for momentary accolades. Caesar & Nero thought they were the stuff of that day but now we call our salads ‘caesar’, our dogs ‘nero’ and our sons Paul!
I’m no Apostle Paul… Not even close! But, wow, I’m so convicted and inspired by his passion, purpose and character! His confidence, conviction and courage are something that I needed to be reminded of this week. I’m thankful for Paul. He did what no one else could (or would) do. He fought harder than the haters or the hypocrites. And, I think he would still say today: don’t hate, imitate! And, I’m trying!
So, who’s your model for ministry?
*picture is painting by Rembrandt of Apostle Paul
(I’ve looked like that for a few weeks)