Apostle Paul made a great contribution to early Christianity. He established many churches in the main cities of Roman Empire, and was one of the first missionaries. In addition, the Apostle Paul was not just a preacher or evangelist - he was also a leader. People respected Paul and followed him being inspired by his leadership characteristics. The book of Acts and the Pauline epistles reveal that he had potential of a leading light in Christianity in many respects. He could influence his followers by demonstrating such led managed features as humility, servants heart and spirituality. These traits may dissent from the image of a modern leader; nevertheless, they constitute the illustrative example of the Christian guidance for all the time.
One of the first characteristics of the Apostle Paul is his servants heart. In the modern world, the word servant has no positive connotations. It is rather associated with mistreated African slaves. Unfortunately, many contemporary Christians are influenced by consumer mentality and are not used to serve others. However, service is the main criterion of the biblical leadership, as it is said in the Gospel of Mark, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve (Mk 10: 43-45, New Revised Standard Version). Servants mind-set of Paul is easy to notice. He calls himself a slave of Christ (Rom 1:1, Gal 1:10; Phil 1:1; Tit 1:1). This name means that Paul accepts himself as a humble servant of God. Besides, he identifies himself as the slave of his converts (2Cor 4:5). It means that he serves not only God as most men of cloth do, but people as well. In fact, servant leadership embraces many things. As Efrain Agosto puts it, For Paul, gospel leadership was about service, even if that service entailed suffering, hard labor, and criticism from those who misunderstood the nature of the ministry (Agosto, 2005, p. 203).
Humility is another characteristic of Paul. Nowadays leaders often repudiate this virtue, viewing themselves as independent and self-sufficient. Still, they can learn humility of mind from Paul, the so-called philosophy of weakness (Sanders, 2007). In spite of all his achievements, spiritual experience and position, Apostle did not become arrogant as one may expect. He did not display his power or boast of his exceptional status. On the contrary, he did exactly the opposite. In particular, he boasted of his weaknesses (2 Cor 12:9). People could see his frailty and understand that he was not a perfect man. However, he did not hide his humanity and was not ashamed of it. Furthermore, humility was not a weakness of Paul - it was his power and one of the fundamental traits of his leadership.
One more feature that characterizes Paul as a leader is his shepherds heart. Being a shepherd does not pertain to businesslike leadership; the guidance is performed with loving affiliation. God himself intended his apostles to become the shepherds (2 Pet 5:2-4). Though the word shepherd equals the word pastor, Paul had never called himself a pastor. Instead, he called himself a shepherd (Eph 4:11), and appointed the Ephesian elders to be shepherds of the church (Acts 20:28-29). However, Beasley-Murray mentions Paul as a pastor: Pauls letters are clear testimony to his pastoral heart. Indeed his letters are a product of his pastoral care, for through them Paul exercised a pastoral role in regard to the churches which he or his converts had founded (Hawthorne, Martin, & Reid, 1993, p.12).The shepherds heart is evident from Pauline pastoral activities. He intercedes for his people in prayer and teaches them the word of God. Thus, he cares about his people as shepherd cares about his flock.
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Shepherds heart of Paul gave rise to the ability of teaching people to adopt this type of behavior. Apostle Paul understood that such a Christian trait must be passed to his followers and adherers to build the compassionate society in future. He wanted to invest into development of his coworkers, the future leaders of Christian church. Pauline associates were often younger than he was, and it signified the need to train others so that they could continue his missionary and preaching work. Paul was very dedicated to Timothy among all his adherers. The Bible comprises the stories about Paul preparing Timothy for his life work. In particular, Apostle took Timothy along on his journeys for the sake of practical teachings and lectures. Sanders writes about it, A great deal of Timothys training was received on the job as he traveled with Paul ... from his tutor he no doubt learned how to meet triumphantly the reverses and crises that seemed routine in Pauls life and ministry (Sanders, 2007, p. 211).
Spirituality was one of the principal leadership traits of Apostle Paul. Furthermore, his style of guidance is the spiritual leadership. Paul was a powerful leader because he was inspired communicating the will of the Spirit.Michael Thompson describes Pauline influence as following,no other person has had a greater impact upon Christian spirituality than Paul except for our lord Jesus Christ (Elwell, 2001, p. 907). For Paul, spirituality and spirit of God are inseparable. God is the heart of spirituality, and intimacy with Him is impossible without the Spirit. Nevertheless, Pauline spirituality is christocentric as James Houston notifies,Christian spirituality is Christocentric. The apostle Paul frequently describes the life of the believer in Christ to emphasize the union Christians enjoy with Jesus Christ (Elwell, 2001, p. 1047). Thus, Pauline leadership is grounded in God the Father, Jesus Christ and Holy Spirit.
Another component that makes the Apostle the perfect leader is being spirit-lead. He trusted Spirit and allowed him to guide Paul. Holy Spirit to Paul was the source of empowerment as it remains for many Christians today. Being encouraged and led by spirit, Paul could work for the sake of Christ so dynamically and effectively as no one in the history of Christian church could. Being spirit-led was a key of successful ministry, as Paul had fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ... through the power of the Spirit (Romans 15:19). Without that empowerment, it would not have been possible for Paul to perform his mission so effectively.
One more leadership trait of the Apostle Paul appeared to be his love to prayer. Paul is often called often the prayer warrior. It is evident that Pauls apostolate developed from prayer. His ministry began in prayer, lasted in prayer and ended in prayer when he was martyred (Hawthorne, Martin, & Reid, 1993). He usually began and finished his letters with comments and reports on prayer. His invocation reports show how much efforts the apostle made to worship well. His prayers appeared to be intense and consistent. Sanders even implies that his prayer more than his preaching produced the kind of leaders we meet in his letters (Sanders, 2007, 45). In case of Paul, it is true that prayer reveals the quality of a leaders spiritual life more than anything else does. Still, his example is worthy of emulation in the modern world.
Apart from prayer, Paul derived his leadership strength from being a visionary.A good leader should have a vision of the point to which he would guide his followers. That is precisely true about the Apostle Paul. To realize what the Apostles vision was one should turn to the Holy Scripture. Paul received a message from God and he recalled it as follows, I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness (Acts 26:17-18). His words indicate his leadership vision that God gave him. Paul realized that he had to save and liberate people from the power of darkness. Therefore, he saw his calling in evangelizing the gentile world. Afterwards, it became the driving force of his life.
Faithfulness belongs to the key leadership characteristic of Paul.The Apostle Paul was a man of faith,andhe himself claimed that he walked by faith, not by sight (2Cor 5:7). Pauls conversion had a profound impact on both his life and faith. The event confirming his faithfulness is described in the Book of Acts. In that story, Paul went to Rome by ship. Suddenly a storm hit the ship. It lasted for several days and people on the board lost their hope. Nevertheless, Paul did not give up. God told him He would save Paul and he did not doubt that vision. Instead, he encouraged his people with the words keep your courage, men for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me (Acts 27:25).
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Commitment is the final feature of Paul responsible for the successful leadership.As a Christian leading light, Paul is committed to the priorities set by Christ for the church. At the same time, the Apostle does not pursue his personal priorities. Christs primary goals can be summed up in a leaders commitment to prayer, scripture, worship, and missions (Acts 2:41-47). Being committed, Paul tried to teach others to being devoted to Christs critical tasks. Cooper comments on this leadership trait saying, It is interesting to note that Paul never referred to methods for doing ministry. He continually pointed people to Christs prioritiesfor the church and thereby focused on empowering others with biblical principles rather than methodologies (Cooper, 2005, p. 57).
To conclude, Apostle Paul could inspire and lead people due to the leadership traits he possessed. His main characteristics included servants and shepherds hearts, humility, commitment, faithfulness, ability to develop shepherds from others, spirituality and being spirit-led, being prayer and visionary. These traits may dissent from the image of modern leader, which is supposed to be independent and self-sufficient. However, the leadership traits of Apostle Paul constitute the illustrative example of the Christian leadership for all the time.
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