As summer flies by, I’ve been thinking about leadership. The Lutheran understanding is that every baptized person is a leader, part of “the priesthood of all believers.” You and I and every Christian has the calling to influence the world as someone who represents Jesus. Wow! What makes a good Christian leader? For this blog, I want to draw out some leadership lessons I see in Acts 28, a really incredible story.
At the beginning of Acts 28, we find Paul after he has just survived a shipwreck. The prison ship he was on, headed for Rome, crashes and Paul swims to an island called Malta. Malta is situated south of Italy in the Mediterranean Sea and was inhabited by islanders. When Paul and the crew washes up on their beach, Acts 28:2 says “The islanders showed us unusual kindness. They built a fire and welcomed us all because it was raining and cold.”
But then, as Paul is helping to build the fire, he picks up a pile of wood and out jumps a viper! This snake doesn’t just bite Paul, it “fastened itself on his hand” (Acts 28:3). Which brings me to the first lesson,
Expect a snake in the woodpile.
Even when a project or a situation begins well, adversity, challenges, and other “vipers” are sure to appear. Partly this is because we live in a fallen world, and partly it is due to our own sinfulness. These vipers will try to steal your joy and blind you from trusting in God, but they have limited power. After the snake bites Paul, the islanders assume the worst. They think this must be some kind of punishment for Paul, and that he’s in deep trouble. But Paul sees things differently…
Don’t panic; Remember God is in control.
Paul knows his mission to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles isn’t finished and won’t end because of a measly little snake. So, Paul “shook the snake into the fire and suffered no ill effects” (28:5). This doesn’t mean we ought to be foolhardy, but it is a good reminder that although adversity hurts, it is weak compared to the plans God has for us. After Paul is healed, the islanders change their tune and “said [Paul] was a god” (Acts 28:6). It doesn’t say so, but this surely was lesson in humility for Paul—to point other people away from himself and back to the true God, Jesus Christ.
Finally, we hear that after Paul survives all this, he goes to the home of the chief island official, Publius. Publius’ father is really sick (27:7). Paul prays over him and brings healing to not only him, but to all who were sick. Which leads to a final point,
Our gifts are for helping others.
Whichever gifts God has blessed you with, they were provided so that you could be Christ’s instrument of healing and care. Being a leader means you are equipped to bring hope. It begins with faith that you’ve been healed by the saving love of Jesus, and that he’s sent you to bless others!
As our 8 Days of Service draw near (click here), now is a great time to share your gifts. Whichever ways you’re called to be a servant leader, God bless you in your serving!