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Strongman or Servant

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The Christ-centered leader must shift from strongman to servant.

Frank story - “Don’t let him walk away saying how angry you were, but how pastoral you were.” My arrogance, and my desire to project strength nearly disqualified from the privilege of being a servant leader.

The Christ-centered leader must shift from strongman to servant.

Our American culture values and elevates strength. Who looks the strongest, talks the toughest, acts the boldest, and is willing to take the risks....these are the people who are interviewed on podcasts, are elected presidents, or, yeah, even become the most popular pastors. I have met men who rule with an iron fist in the conference room, and speak of humility at the conference.
A culture that values a strongman will be a culture of fear… says that perfect love casts out fear…the crux of the gospel is that it flows out of God’s love....for his glory and for our us in the gospel. So, being a strongman leader rather than a servant leaders is anti-gospel leadership. Gospel leadership takes the form of a servant that washes feet, so that those feet may carry forth the word of God.
We don’t need men and women in the church who are out to prove their strength, we need men and women who are out to demonstrate the strength of the gospel in humbling the prideful, and elevating the God who deserves all glory.
We MUST shift the culture, and focus our hearts on what God has called us to.

4 This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. 2 Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful. 3 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. 4 For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. 5 Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.

6 I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another. 7 For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?

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4:1 This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful. But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.

Shift from selfishness to stewardship (vs. 1-5)

First and foremost Paul, in talking about his calling, reinforces the calling of every believers in Christ. You are a “steward” of God’s grace. Paul uses the language of mysteries, and the mystery is in that ultimately God must reveal truth before someone will obtain in faith. These mysteries have been revealed to us, and so it is our responsibility as managers of of the mystery to magnify it to the blind in hopes that they may see with new eyes borne of faith.
Paul’s intentional language…servants of Christ and stewards of the gospel, also answer the challenges of some in this church who thought Paul less spiritually effective than eitehr Cephas or Apollos. Paul is indicating here that they cannot judge him, nor will he judge them, but rather God will judge.
We are all equal at the foot fo the cross - sinners in need of a savior judged guilty.
We are equal in our faith…sinners saved by grace through faith now servants of our God
We are all equal in our mission....to steward the grace of God, preaching the gospel to all people.
It is the Lord who judges our effectiveness and our faithfulness, it is the Lord who will implode and expose the ministries of the ineffective and heretical. Our faith must drive us to a humble understand that our judge is God who will ultimately expose what may be consequential. The knowledge of God’s judgemnt in our stewardship should create a framework in which we reject selfishness knowing that too will be exposed and selfishness cannot co-exist with the equality of our hearts at the cross.
Shift from selfishness to stewardship....and...

Shift from sainthood to servanthood (vv. 6-13)

Now I am not talking about sainthood in the sense that we are all saints in Christ, but in the way that many think that you want to become a saint through your actions.
To become a saint in the catholic church, there are many steps...
You are generally dead.
It has to be proven that you lived a nearly flawless life
You have to have multiple verified miracle.
Once you are declared a saint, you are immortalized in paintings, statues or jewelry. People will pray through you, and claim you, at times, as a talisman for protection or purpose.
We have far too many people in the church who only act at serving so someone will venerate them as a saint instead of knowing that our sainthood only exists as a result of a King who became a servant.
Once you are declared a saint, you are immortalized in paintings, statues or jewelry. People will pray through you, and claim you, at times, as a talisman for protection or purpose.
You have to be caonised
Listen to how Paul goes at these critical fools who so mirror us in verses 6-13..

8 Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! Without us you have become kings! And would that you did reign, so that we might share the rule with you! 9 For I think that God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, like men sentenced to death, because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men. 10 We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honor, but we in disrepute. 11 To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless, 12 and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; 13 when slandered, we entreat. We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things.

1 Corinthians 4:8–13 LEB
Already you are satiated! Already you are rich! Apart from us you reign as kings! And would that indeed you reigned as kings, in order that we also might reign as kings with you! For, I think, God has exhibited us apostles last of all, as condemned to death, because we have become a spectacle to the world and to angels and to people. We are fools for the sake of Christ, but you are prudent in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are honored, but we are dishonored! Until the present hour we are both hungry and thirsty and poorly clothed and roughly treated and homeless, and we toil, working with our own hands. When we are reviled, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure; when we are slandered, we encourage. We have become like the refuse of the world, the offscouring of all things, until now.

In this powerful passage, the apostle makes use of biting irony to show the Corinthians how trivial are their concerns and how unfair their criticisms. The sufferings of Paul are comparable to the pain and public humiliation of captives condemned to die (2 Cor. 11:23–30). In contrast, some of the Corinthians think of themselves as notably successful, but only because they do not understand what it means to be “fools for Christ’s sake” (v. 10)—not to behave nonsensically, but to identify with Christ’s cross, which seems foolish to the perishing but is God’s true wisdom (1:18–25). The deprivation, contempt, and manual labor experienced by the apostles disqualify and devalue their mission in the eyes of the world and of many in the church as well

1 Corinthians 4:8–13 LEB
Already you are satiated! Already you are rich! Apart from us you reign as kings! And would that indeed you reigned as kings, in order that we also might reign as kings with you! For, I think, God has exhibited us apostles last of all, as condemned to death, because we have become a spectacle to the world and to angels and to people. We are fools for the sake of Christ, but you are prudent in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are honored, but we are dishonored! Until the present hour we are both hungry and thirsty and poorly clothed and roughly treated and homeless, and we toil, working with our own hands. When we are reviled, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure; when we are slandered, we encourage. We have become like the refuse of the world, the offscouring of all things, until now.
8 Already you are satiated! Already you are rich! Apart from us you reign as kings! And would that indeed you reigned as kings, in order that we also might reign as kings with you! 9 For, I think, God has exhibited us apostles last of all, as condemned to death, because we have become a spectacle to the world and to angels and to people. 10 We are fools for the sake of Christ, but you are prudent in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are honored, but we are dishonored! 11 Until the present hour we are both hungry and thirsty and poorly clothed and roughly treated and homeless, 12 and we toil, working with our own hands. When we are* reviled, we bless; when we are* persecuted, we endure; 13 when we are* slandered, we encourage. We have become like the refuse of the world, the offscouring of all things, until now.

In this powerful passage, the apostle makes use of biting irony to show the Corinthians how trivial are their concerns and how unfair their criticisms. The sufferings of Paul are comparable to the pain and public humiliation of captives condemned to die (2 Cor. 11:23–30). In contrast, some of the Corinthians think of themselves as notably successful, but only because they do not understand what it means to be “fools for Christ’s sake”

1 Corinthians 4:8–13 LEB
Already you are satiated! Already you are rich! Apart from us you reign as kings! And would that indeed you reigned as kings, in order that we also might reign as kings with you! For, I think, God has exhibited us apostles last of all, as condemned to death, because we have become a spectacle to the world and to angels and to people. We are fools for the sake of Christ, but you are prudent in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are honored, but we are dishonored! Until the present hour we are both hungry and thirsty and poorly clothed and roughly treated and homeless, and we toil, working with our own hands. When we are reviled, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure; when we are slandered, we encourage. We have become like the refuse of the world, the offscouring of all things, until now.
Paul scoffs at their success in light of his savior. He may be a fool, he may be a servant, but to serve the savior than to believe you ARE the savior. One path leads to the salvation of others, and the other leads to destruction for yourself.
We must move from the recognition of our saintly successes, and become fools for Christ, servants of the most high God.
Finally....

Shift from Shaming to Showing (14-17)

14 I do not write these things to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children. 15 For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. 16 I urge you, then, be imitators of me. 17 That is why I sent you Timothy, my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, to remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach them everywhere in every church

The church, for some reason, loves friendly fire. This is done often in the name of correction and rebuke, but is often from the spirit of producing shame, and elevating themselves. A good, godly leader does not want you to walk in shame but to walk in freedom. A good father does not want his child to wallow in their worst mistake, but to be loved and learn from their worst mistake.
As Christ followers, we must seek to show not shame.
Show LOVE - Paul calls them beloved children
This means redeeming that which satan would call shame and knowing that your desires are good. Shame is a result of the fall. Some of you have had sex though you were not married. Some of you had sex with each other. Maybe you have lived in a cycle of self-violence that we call pornography. Some of you have walked for a long time wrapped up in your own mind thinking that your desire for the same sex meant you were evil. Some of you have walked through a divorce and maybe you have been shamed by people in the church whose grace could not extend past their own sin, maybe you have not been the parent you wanted to be and you are riddled with guilt, maybe you have hurt people and now you hurt yourself.
shows us that shame entered this world as a result of the fall; it is a product of sin, and then enemy uses shame as the shackles for our sin imprisonment.
I want you all to know that you are free..you are free, to walk in the demonstrated love of Jesus Christ, walk away from the shame that comes from the sins and the hurts, walk in freedom, walk in the redeeming work of Christ and redeem the broken things. Shame has never mended anything, but repentance, reconciliation, confession, accountability; these are redeeming acts of self-love and God-centeredness.
Show Love to the lost, to your brother, to your sister in Christ, and show love to yourself…do not shame and do not walk in shame. Show love..
Show CARE - admonish when you must, but earn that right
Show CHRIST - Paul urges them to be imitators of him as he follows Christ - Be worthy of that call

I became your father in Christ Jesus … be imitators of me. That is why I sent you Timothy, my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, to remind you of my ways in Christ.

1 Cor. 10:32–11:1

Give no offense … just as I try to please everyone in everything … Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.

Phil. 3:17

Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.

Phil. 4:9

What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things.

2 Thess. 3:7–9

You yourselves know how you ought to imitate us … but to give you in ourselves an example to imitate.

2 Tim. 3:10–11

You … have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions and sufferings.

1 Corinthians 4:15–17 LEB
For if you have ten thousand guardians in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I fathered you through the gospel. Therefore I exhort you, become imitators of me. Because of this, I have sent to you Timothy, who is my dear and faithful child in the Lord, who will remind you of my ways in Christ Jesus, just as I teach everywhere in every church.
I truly want to be able to say this…
This is the call of every Christian who will lead others, make disciples…to be vulnerable, to be loving, to be humble, to be a servant and a steward.
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