1 Corinthians 9:1-27, Matthew 15:11, Romans 15:17-19
Anyone who’s been in leadership—whether in the business world, the church, the home, or school—knows there is almost always someone who will disagree with you. Sometimes it’s disagreement over certain policies or ideas or practices. Sometimes it’s disagreement with your entire philosophy.
Paul felt this opposition regularly. He was often criticized for his theological views, the practices of his ministry, and the people he associated with. In fact, he was critical of other leaders at times too (Galatians 2:11-13). At some level, leaders are always out front, which means the crosshairs find them quite easily. And frankly, folks are often quick to point a finger when something goes wrong.
While Paul is explaining, and even defending, his leadership here, it is riddled with principles we all can learn from. In short, every Christian is called to make disciples, and so every Christian is a leader. So what does Paul say about his own ministry?
First, he explains that he has a right to be in leadership. He tells the Corinthians that he was called by Jesus, and therefore, should be able to minister to them and should be supported by them. The Corinthian church’s faith is proof of that. They were “the seal of [his] apostleship in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 9:2).
Second, he roots his leadership in Scripture. He defends his teaching and philosophy not on worldly wisdom or cultural customs, but on what he believes God’s Word says. He is not a false teacher. The Bible can back him up on that.
Finally, he tells them that his ministry is not selfish. He wants them to know that all he does is for the good of others. He humbles himself in every situation in order to serve, and he is not a compromiser. The fact that he has rooted his ministry in God’s call and biblical truth validates that.
All of us can learn from Paul here. As ministers of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:16-21), we are called by God to lead others in biblical truth and servant-hearted humility. Regardless of opposition, if we are grounded in this, God can use us just as He used Paul.
Written by Brandon D. Smith