A man in a hot air balloon realized he was lost. He reduced altitude and spotted a woman below. He descended a bit more and shouted, “Excuse me, can you help me? I promised a friend I would meet him an hour ago, but I don’t know where I am.” The woman below replied, “You’re in a hot air balloon hovering approximately 30’ above ground. You’re between 43-44 degrees north altitude and between 38-39 degrees west longitude.”
“You must be an engineer,” said the balloonist.
“Indeed, I am. How did you know?” the woman asked.
The balloonist answered: “Everything you told me is technically correct, but I’ve no idea what to make of your information and the fact is, I’m still lost. Frankly, you’ve not been much help at all. If anything you’ve delayed my trip.”
The woman below responded, “You must be in management.” “Indeed I am,” replied the balloonist, “but how did you know?”
The woman answered: “Well, you don’t know where you are or where you are going. You have risen to where you are due to a large quantity of hot air. You made a promise, which you’ve no idea how to keep, and you expect people beneath you to solve your problems. The fact is, you are in exactly the same position you were in before we met, but now, somehow, you’ve managed to make it my fault.”
The church at Corinth had mixed views of leadership. They were prideful and fixed into cliques that neither the people nor the leadership agreed. Yet this letter from the apostle Paul sought to fix the unity issues.
The church at Corinth was a messy church with lots of issues. Likewise, the church today has issues and baggage. Sometimes we even have extra carry on baggage.
But this entire letter of 1Cor is for the purpose of helping believers lose the luggage of sin and travel to a different destination. And Christians & churches today can learn how to relate to one another according to the ways that bring honor to God.
Cross-centered leaders are servants (4:1)
Paul continued to teach the Corinthians the significance but yet also their shared equality of the church’s leadership. Just sentences before in the letter he reminded them, “let no one boast in men” (3:21), which was similar to a previous statement, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord” (1:31). Now he wants the Corinthians to view its leaders as servants (ὑπηρέτης = hooperetes: under rower on bottom of tier ship; galley slave). Paul and Apollos were not leaders to be hyped but lowly servants to honor God and help the people of God.
This week and this winter there has been a fair amount of snow. Our shovels and our snowblowers have received a lot of action. Family and friends have been complaining – er, talking about how much snow has been in their driveways. These tools have been our servants; they don’t boast on themselves but are means to equip us for our work.
Being stuck in house from snow has caused available time to watch television. I watched a movie, “Tuskegee Airman”. It was a group of African-American pilots who served in WWII. They were highly discriminated against yet persevered to serve their country with honor and distinction. I am thankful for these men, among the many others who served our nation in the past and also those who serve in the present to enable our freedom.
Servants are props and people to promote good.
à As a Christian you are a gift to the world – but do you puff your head with pride or offer your heart and hands to help others?
Jesus said whoever would be great must become a servant, just as he came to serve and give His life (Mark 10:43-45).
Paul encouraged us not to view ourselves more highly than we ought (Romans 12:3; Philippians 2:3-4).
Cross-centered leaders are stewards (4:1-7)
To further the image of leaders as servants, Paul called them stewards (οἰκονόμος = oikonomos: property manager) to signify again they were not masters themselves; there is only one master – Jesus Christ. Stewards are required to be trustworthy (faithful). Obviously, an untrustworthy or unfaithful servant would be a contradiction in terms. Jesus asked, “When the Son of Man returns, will he find faith on earth (Luke 18:8)?”
Such a character quality is consistently judged (evaluated or examined). The Apostles, as all Christian leaders, were under scrutiny to see if their leadership position would claim authority or power. Paul notes their position was received by God, everything they have was given to them by God (v.7).
Stewards must labor diligently as Paul did making tents and ministering the word (Acts 18:3-5). Servants and stewards do not work for the fame of their own name but for the glory of God.
à What do you have that you did not receive (4:7)?
As stewards all that we “own” is not for our benefit but for blessing others. God’s gifts are given so that we may be generous to others.
– Building/Ground: SPBC, WEE Preschool, ALKBC, Autism, AA, Community & Rec Groups
– People: volunteer in SPBC & through SPBC unto family & community
Cross-centered leaders are spectacles to the world (4:9-13)
The Corinthians were puffed up with pride. Since they had the gospel they took God’s grace for granted, indulging in immorality (ch 5-9). Since they had the gospel they used their gifts for self-gratification rather than the glory of God (ch. 10-14). Since they had the gospel they considered themselves secure – rightly so – but in selfishness to the neglect of others (ch. 11-16).
Paul showed his vulnerability noting that the Apostles had a death sentence in the worlds eyes and were spectacles to the world, fools for Christ, weak, held in disrepute, hungry, thirsty, poorly dressed, beaten, homeless, persecuted and slandered, and even scum (perikatharma: lowly sacrifice, as a filthy or vile criminal to be done away) or refuse (peripsema: wiped off scum, the bottom filth).
In other words, Paul is saying that to follow Christ is going to be counter-cultural. It will not be easy. Being sanctified means you are being “set apart” to be different. Christians are called to be salt and light, transforming and influencing the culture rather than being effected by it.
à How is your family different because of the way you follow Christ?
à How is your community and your church different because of the way you follow Christ?
Cross-centered leaders are spiritual fathers (4:14-21)
Paul’s letter is instructive and perhaps intimidating, but more it is intimate. He cares for these people. He wants the best for them. He loves them enough to speak the truth. His goal was not to shame but to siren an alarm on their lifestyle. He was admonishing them (νουθετέω= noutheteo: to change your mind). He says they have countless (literally 10K) guides but he was their only spiritual father. As a loving father delights in his child, so a spiritual father delights to instruct. He wanted to show them the difference between the broad wrong road and the narrow right path.
Sometimes discipline can injure and wound. But the goal of discipline should not be rejection but restoration. Paul’s admonishment aimed for the mind, to change the behavior you have to change the belief system. Therefore, correction should not emotionally humiliate but equip the person to understand why and how to change.
– – > True for parenting
– – > True for organization bosses & leadership roles
à Christians need spiritual fathers & mothers
– – > growing godly generations takes intergenerational care & correction of one another
à Children need fathers & mothers to correct not just by pouring on shame and guilt and punishment.
They need parents who will pour in hope and help through instructive discipline.
– – > Eye level: speak face to face, heart to heart
– – > Enter their world: cultivate the relationship, share and listen
– – > Entice them with a real and radical God: show what He deserves and demands
– – > Educate them with practical truth
Leaders lead others to the Lord…