Monthly Archives: June 2015

Paul Finished Well

How could Paul so confidently say what he did in 2 Timothy 4:7-8?

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.

Let me suggest three factors from Paul’s life that allowed him (and anyone) to finish the spiritual journey here on earth well.

1. Paul clearly understood (and lived) his calling.

“So, King Agrippa, I did not prove disobedient to the heavenly vision, but kept declaring both to those of Damascus first, and also at Jerusalem and then throughout all the region of Judea, and even to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds appropriate to repentance. (Acts 26:19-20)

For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying) as a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth. (1 Timothy 2:7)

2. Paul endured difficulty for the sake of his calling.

But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God. (Acts 20:24)

But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ.  More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:7-11)

3. Paul’s calling directed but did not define him. His calling was always in mind but at the heart level was his relationship with Jesus and the crucifixion.

But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. (Galatians 6:14)

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better; yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake. (Philippians 1:21-24)

The clearer we understand our calling, the better able we will be to endure life’s challenges.  Our ability to endure to the end will depend on what motivates us at the deepest level.  Anything less than knowing Jesus and valuing the cross will produce a hindrance to finishing well.  So, let us apply what the writer to Hebrews concisely stated,

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2)


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Paul Led by Teaching

As was suggested in the last blog, leaders are learners.  It is equally true that leaders are teachers.  Although not every leader has well-developed gifts and abilities to teach, teaching is the means for communicating all that is important.  Just as there are multiple learning styles, there are multiple teaching styles.  However one teaches, it is indispensable for leading well.

Paul is portrayed as an itinerant teacher in Acts.  Probably his most extensive and intensive teaching took place when at the school of Tyrannus (Acts 19:9-10) in Ephesus over two and a half years.  We know through his Epistles he was committed to teaching.  Then, in Colossians 1:28 he seems to portray himself and other leaders as teaching every chance they get.

Great leaders must take time to organize their thoughts in ways so that they can communicate them clearly.  Leadership author and executive Noel Tichy in The Leadership Engine says, “Simply put, if you aren’t teaching, you aren’t leading.” (p. 57) He goes on to clarify that “Winning leaders consciously think about their experiences.  They roll them over in their minds, analyze them and draw lessons from them.  They constantly update and refine their views as they acquire new knowledge and experience.  And they store them in the form of stories that they use not only to guide their own decisions and actions, but also to teach and lead others.  When you hear leaders talk about their lives, you learn their teachable points of view.” (p. 59)

When it comes to teaching biblical truth we must understand why we do so.  Walt Hendrickson, in his excellent (but now out-of-print) book, Understand, clarifies succinctly why we teach: “The primary purpose of the Bible is to change our lives, not increase our knowledge.” (p. 34) Far too much teaching is for the sake of the teacher—to share how much he or she has learned.  These teachers are often self- and content-centered.  Great teachers facilitate learning.  Such teachers are others- and learning-centered.  As adult learning specialist Jane Vella says, “The professor must die!”  By this she means that teachers must ensure that their goal revolves around the learner, not one’s skill or reputation.

Think for a moment.  Write down the name of someone who taught you something significant about life or leadership.  Next, what leadership lesson(s) did you learn?  Then, how have you personally applied that teaching and what have you purposefully done to teach these lessons to others?  If you cannot answer these questions, either the lesson or the teacher may not have been that significant.

By the time a person reaches mid-life, say in one’s 50s, there should be a set of core learning that rises above all others.  These “life lessons or messages” are such that you can speak about them naturally, at a moments notice.  You have key biblical passages that correlate.  You have experiences that illustrate.  In short, you can teach with credibility and authority.

  • Have you ever taken the time to reflect upon your most significant life lessons and written them down?
  • Have you invested worthy time to connect these lessons with biblical passages that clearly relate?
  • Have you reflected on how these lessons impacted your life and put them in concise and transferable concepts?
  • Have you connected illustrations to these lessons so to make them understandable and memorable?

For an enlightening study, consider the three to five core teachings of Jesus and Paul.  What most oozed out of them when they taught?  May we follow their leadership.

Next Blog: Paul Finished Well



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Filed under Leader's Foundation, Life Messages, Teaching