Links Daily Devotional

Taking the Lead

When they arrived, he said to them: “You know how I lived the whole time I was with you…” (Acts 20:18, NIV)

In a matter of two days someone, maybe someone surprising, is going to be able to say, “I’m leading the US Open.”

Of course, with modern leaderboards, what it means to lead a golf tournament is a bit in question. An afternoon player who birdies the first hole to go one-under is said to be “leading” over a morning competitor who has completed the round at even par. That might make sense on a scoring track where birdies abound. But this is the US Open, at Oakmont no less. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, an early birdie will be met with multiple bogeys (and worse!).

If we are to be leaders in the way that God would have us be, we must start here: living open lives and speaking open messages.More than this, for our purpose today, we might say that a golf leaderboard is purely one-dimensional. It tells us who is in front when it comes to score. What it does not reveal is even a tidbit about a player’s true leadership potential or ability in the sense that we would normally use those expressions.

What qualifies a man or a woman to lead others? Let’s agree that it’s not their golf score!

The apostle Paul spent large portions of his time forming leaders. He was a leader himself, true. But this was not enough for him. He knew his days were numbered. He needed to replicate his qualities. And therein, we must say, is one of the most important signs of true leadership: a desire and a commitment to passing on the ability to lead.

In Acts 20, where Paul said a tearful goodbye to the Ephesian elders, he took time to review aspects of leadership they would need in caring for those in their church. This was serious business. We’ll review the specifics tomorrow, but today we want to see two vital halves of the way Paul led.

First, he lived his life openly. In this way they saw how Paul made decisions, what his daily activity consisted of, and how he interacted with others. They witnessed the adversity he faced and how he dealt with it—with humility and tears. The leadership gurus of our time would call this “leading by example” and it was critical to how the elders learned from Paul.

Second, he spoke without reservation. Paul had a message to carry and he did so “publicly and from house to house.” From every evidence of Scripture, there was nowhere that Paul would not talk about Jesus and what it meant to believe and follow him.

If we are to be leaders in the way that God would have us be, we must start here: living open lives and speaking open messages. People cannot follow what they cannot see.

Jeff Hopper
June 14, 2016
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