This is the second post in a series coming out of Acts 20 and the apostle Paul’s meeting with the elders of the church in Ephesus. The church in Ephesus was dear to Paul’s heart. He spent more time in this city in missional activity then any other on his missionary journeys. No doubt the church in Ephesus consisted of a series of house churches around the city and these elders represented the leadership of this house church movement. Last week we looked at verses 17-21 and drew out some principles related to leadership. This week we will look at only verses 22-24 and draw out a few more leadership principles.
In particular we must take note of Paul’s values that arise from these verses. Paul reminds the Ephesian elders that he is on his way to Jerusalem-even though he realizes that trouble awaits him. First, Paul values the guidance of the Holy Spirit in his life. He mentions the Holy Spirit twice-that it is the Holy Spirit who “constrains” him to go to Jerusalem and it is the Holy Spirit who testifies to him that “imprisonment and afflictions await” him. The Greek verb for “constrains” literally means “bound, compelled, or forced”. It can also imply being under the authority of another. Paul realizes that his life is not his own. He lives under the moment by moment authority of the Holy Spirit of God who lives within him. And the Spirit is sending him to Jerusalem, even though trouble lies ahead. Second, Paul also values the gospel of Christ over his own life. In this context Paul is referring to the mission he has been given by God and his strong desire is to complete that mission. He sees the eternal value of the mission and what the gospel message can accomplish as more important than any physical suffering he might encounter along the way. Paul did suffer for the gospel-and fairly often. Paul would suffer again, all the way to Rome. In another letter Paul makes a similar estimation of his life. In Philippians 3:2-11 Paul states, “whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” In the letter to the Philippians Paul is referring more directly to his own salvation. Whatever status he had prior to knowing Christ paled in comparison to knowing Christ. The gospel message had radically changed Paul’s life-and now it was worth everything to extend that same message to all who would listen. Paul wanted these Ephesian leaders to know his life values-his leadership values. What are the principles for us?
1. Christ-centered leaders engage their realities in the power of the Holy Spirit-following His leadership in their lives.
2. Christ-centered leaders follow the leading of the Spirit-even when they are not sure what the future holds.
3. Christ-centered leaders are not concerned with self preservation.
4. Christ-centered leaders view self sacrifice in light of their calling, their stewardship and eternity.
May we value what Paul valued!