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Lessons about Leadership (Part 2)

1 Corinthians   •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  56:51
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Paul’s Restrictions

This morning, I would like to begin our time with a small story. On Friday, I knew I would be out late with study so around lunchtime I decided to take a break from my studies to go hang with my kids at a nearby park. After having our fair share of time on the playground, we decide to go on a nature walk. Per the norm, Evalette, my bold aggressive vocal daughter, announced that she would be the leader and began assigning everyone a task. I was assigned the map man, Bekah the nurse, Matthias the crazy guy, and Annalise the fighter (I really think she miss labeled our sweet Annalise- for she will often say that of herself that she is a lover not a fighter). Regardless, we set on our way along the path. As we walked along the way, at times Matthias would wander off the path and Evalette would ever so loudly tell him to come back. That he had to follow her. That your not allowed to do anything else except for what I say. Eventually we would get back on track and shortly later Evalette would be telling Annalise that she needed to do such and such… and with added emphasis say, “Annalise, because I’m the leader, you have to do what I say.”
As I think about my daughter and her energetic spirit, I certainly laugh at her vigor (and perhaps her bossiness), though I do admire her desire to lead. Scripture says that leading is a good thing. “how will they hear without a preacher”, “those that desire the office of a bishop desire a good thing.” The desire to lead is indeed good, but I believe that many, like my daughter, have the wrong mindset about what it means to lead. Do as I say, but not necessarily do as I do mentality is quite rank amongst purposed leaders. It’s a leadership based upon self, not a leadership based upon others which will find is a very unbiblical kind of leadership.
Leadership. That is indeed the topic we will again talk about today. The series is called “Lessons about Leadership”. We began this series back in June and will finish this mini series through these next three weeks.
Background Info:
How did we get to this topic. Well, in 1 Corinthians, the book written to immature church at Corinth. A city so vile and worldly that it had it’s own reputation. Yet God was at work here. The Corinthian believer had their many faults and failures, but it is a wonderful book about God’s grace and forgiveness as well. When I think of this book I think of the song, “He’s still working on me, to make me what I ought to be.” The Corinthians were immature, they needed alot of things set straight in their lives. Division, improper conduct amounst each other, sexual misconduct, improper suing and use of judicial system… Though they had many faults, Paul never gave up on them. They were young and had many questions to which Paul will address in this book.
Beginning in chapter 7, Paul would answer questions regarding Marriage, intimacy, singleness, and food offered to idols. This last issue was a big one because it was causing conflict amongst weaker and mature saints in the church. Chapter 8, Paul went into details about the issues of not just food offered to idols, but Christian liberties in general.
In the beginning of Chapter 9, we looked at Paul’s Rights…
He had a Right to Eat
He had a Right to take along a Believing Spouse
He had a Right to be Financially Supported
It’s Customary in Nature
It’s God’s Law
It’s Being Done for Others
Its the OT Practice
It’s Christ’s Own Words
Today we will look at Paul’s Restrictions. Why he would choice to restrict himself from these God-given rights. In doing so, we will see several things revealed about being a leader… these will not only make us better leaders, but also correct wrong beliefs about what being a leader means.
And remember, all of us our leaders. Anyone that has influence over another is a leader, and all of us are called to influence another… as a parent, guardian, employer, deacon, ministry leader, pastor, as a disciple-maker or even just being an older saint. We must be leaders. So from the life of Paul, let’s first look at...

I. The Leader’s Character (v.15-17)

(I)A. He is Genuine (15a)

Paul states that he used none of these things nor did I write these things so that you would do them. That would be like my son Marcus asking me to play a certain game with him. I would tell him that I can’t at this time and would list my reason. He may respond “Ok, that’s fine. I understand.” but a few minutes late would say “Hey dad, remember on such and such a game.... that’s so cool or that’s so fun isn’t it.” There’s a reason he suddenly goes to remember this after being declined. Though it’s like he’s says ok we won’t play, at the same time he’s trying to goad me into it.
Spouses do this to each other too quite often. We might say … can you … and then say never mind. Now that you’ve captured their attention you tell them but then say “don’t worry about it.” We say don’t worry about it to maybe come across as being sensitive or we might say it to not make them feel burden to do it but at the same time want them to do what we like them to do. So we are kinda speaking out of two mouths.
That’s exactly what Paul didn’t want to happen here.

But Paul did not list these three rights to make people feel sorry for him or even to suggest he would now like to claim the rights. He was illustrating that not only was he asking them to lay aside certain liberties for a good reason but he himself was already doing what he was asking them to do. This is very clear in his statement in verse 15: “I have used none of these things, nor have I written these things that it should be done for me.”

The secret of the power and influence of the leaders of the first-century church wasn’t just in the things they said but the fact that they were themselves an incarnation of their own message.

There wasn’t an attitude of DO AS I SAY BUT NOT AS I DO found anywhere in Paul’s remarks
He legitimately wants them to appreciate & know the extent of the sacrifices He has made so that....
-They may follow his example so they too would know the extent of sacrifices they too should make before the Lord (will take about this one more in detail latter)
-Walk differently than the course of this world (everyone does whatever they can to enjoy their liberties- that’s normal human behavior to do what makes me happy)
There is something extremely important here. As leaders, we get nervous about sharing our victorious lest we come across as haughty or boastful. But let me tell you that it is absolutely essential that we do share from our victorious otherwise, how will people know the way?
1 Corinthians 11:1 ESV
Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.
Do you know what the verse before that says
1 Corinthians 10:33 ESV
just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved.
This may sound perhaps haughty too us, but it is perfectly acceptable behavior as a follower of Christ.
I really love Mike Calhoun’s definition and philosophy of disciple-making. He simply states that disciple-making is… “Teaching others to be what I already am.”
The key to doing this Biblically is verbally (outwardly and to others) but also internally (to ourselves) trace all accomplishments back to Christ. Not by my strength but by yours alone. Humility is the needed key to balance this important aspect of leadership accomplishments.
So a leader must be genuine but he also must be devoted.

(I)B. He is Deeply Devoted (15b)

In the esv, Paul says, “for I would rather die than have anyone deprive me of my ground for boasting.”
1 Corinthians: The MacArthur New Testament Commentary Chapter 22: Refusing to Use Your Liberty (9:15–27)

Boast (kauchēma) refers to that in which one glories or to the basis for glorying. It also carries the idea of rejoicing or reveling. Because it is frequently done in pride, boasting is usually a sin; but it need not be proud and sinful. Paul’s boast was not intended to convey arrogance but joy. He was so glad for that spiritual privilege and commitment in which he rejoiced that he would rather die than contradict it. He had his priorities right, receiving his joy from exercising his privilege to restrict his freedoms rather than from using them. His boasting was far different from boasting of his accomplishments, as he immediately makes clear.

He would rather die than contradict his opportunity to serve and to sacrifice for the Lord. He gives all, knowing that there is something to gain.
We read these verses before but here they are again.
1 Corinthians 15:58 NIV
Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
2 Timothy 4:7–8 ESV
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth 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.
What he is saying is that he doesn’t want to miss out on the opportunity to receive a reward. He was sold out for Jesus. And every opportunity there is was for him to sacrifice was an opportunity to earn a reward in heaven, but also to receive blessing here.
Possible story of man being robbed of a blessing...
A leader must be genuine, deeply devoted, but he also must be humble.

(I)C. He is Humble (16a)

As we read on, Paul says, “For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting.”
This reminds me so much of what I recently read in my devotions from the life of John the Baptist. I want to take a look at it with you and share what the Lord has shown me...
John 3:22–30 ESV
After this Jesus and his disciples went into the Judean countryside, and he remained there with them and was baptizing. John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because water was plentiful there, and people were coming and being baptized (for John had not yet been put in prison). Now a discussion arose between some of John’s disciples and a Jew over purification. And they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, he who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you bore witness—look, he is baptizing, and all are going to him.” John answered, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven. You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.’ The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. He must increase, but I must decrease.”
John the Baptist recognized two very important truths...
That every good deed with which we are able to do comes from God.
He says in response to the jealous group of disciples “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given to him from heaven.” John’s role as the way-maker and forerunner of the Messiah wasn’t anything he did by his own accomplishments. He realized (much faster than his disciples) that all his followers, his popularity, his ability to speak, and everything good that we has allowed to do, was just that. Given to Him by God. It was never his to begin with. But that’s what gave him great joy… the other important truth.
That we have the opportunity to be honored by the Lord in serving Him.
John mentions in verse 29, “the friend of the bridegroom.” In our typical wedding services, we might think of him as the best man. Have you ever known a best man that tries to upstage the groom. Take away the spotlight from him. Absolutely not, and if you have seen that take place, than he was a terribly selfish best man. Most best men are there to make the groom look good. His joy is seeing the grooms joy. This comparison would have even more meaning to the first century Christian whose wedding lasted a week and whose wedding organizer, planner was the “friend of the bridegroom.” It was the “best mans” job to make sure everything went smoothly. The best man’s joy was making his “pal” happy. But what an honor it was. He was the “BEST” “MAN”. To be the best man is quite an honor. It means your important to them, so it’s an absolute blessing to serve the one who let you be in that position. When I asked my father to be my best man, he said it was perhaps the greatest honor he has ever been given then proceeded to cry abundantly which he doesn’t often do. But that’s the feeling John the Baptist conveys.
That’s leadership for you. Humility. Understanding that your gifts and abilities, the victorious that you’ve won and the achievements you’ve been allowed all come from God, but even though you may not be the one receiving glory, it is such a great honor to serve and be allowed this position. That’s leadership for ya.
So while a leader needs to be genuine, deeply devoted, humble, he must also understand the need.

(I)D. He Understands the Necessity (16b)

For necessity is laid upon me. (He was under compulsion). Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!
He had been called to the task.
1 Corinthians: The MacArthur New Testament Commentary The Reward Was Not for the Message or The Ministry of the Gospel

As Paul realized later, God had set him apart even from his “mother’s womb” (Gal. 1:15). Like Jeremiah (Jer. 1:5) and John the Baptist (Luke 1:13–17), Paul was called and ordained by God before he was born. And like Jeremiah, Paul could refrain from preaching. When frustrated and despondent because of rejection and ridicule, Jeremiah tried to stop preaching but could not.

Jeremiah 20:9 NASB95
But if I say, “I will not remember Him Or speak anymore in His name,” Then in my heart it becomes like a burning fire Shut up in my bones; And I am weary of holding it in, And I cannot endure it.
1 Corinthians: The MacArthur New Testament Commentary The Reward Was Not for the Message or The Ministry of the Gospel

At some time or another, every preacher whom the Lord has called will realize that he is under God’s compulsion. It is not that God’s calling cannot be ignored, neglected, or slighted, but that it cannot be changed. The man who resists God’s call or tries to give it up will, like Jeremiah, experience a “burning fire shut up in [his] bones” until he obeys. He has no choice.

We all have a call. A call to walk worthy, a call to make disciples, a call to be good stewards of the grace of God. To the which is our last point. A Leader must be a good steward.

(I)E. He is a Good Steward (17)

“For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward, but if not of my own will, I am still entrusted with a stewardship.”
Colossians 1:25 ESV
of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known,
Regardless of whether a leader does it for the right reason, he has been given a stewardship of it. It is clear that Paul was a good steward. He continually shines the light of the Word by his own example, not just preaching it, but living it as well. Taking his call and living it to the fullest.

II. The Leader’s Convictions (v. 18)

As Paul goes through these points of his own life, he is not tearing up the truths that Christian leader’s don’t need to be paid. He made a strong point for them in verses 1-14. Those that serve are deserving of a double honor!!!
But for Paul, the choosing of neglecting these rights was a matter of personal conviction.
I actually like how the NLT “paraphrase” Bible paraphrases it.
1 Corinthians 9:18 NLT
What then is my pay? It is the opportunity to preach the Good News without charging anyone. That’s why I never demand my rights when I preach the Good News.
Paul was passionate about doing the Lord’s Work. He loved to generously give. He loved to prove His faith. And He loved to share with others the Gospel.
This was his normal activity.
1 Thessalonians 2:9 ESV
For you remember, brothers, our labor and toil: we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God.
Acts 20:33–35 ESV
I coveted no one’s silver or gold or apparel. You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my necessities and to those who were with me. In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”
1 Corinthians: The MacArthur New Testament Commentary Chapter 22: Refusing to Use Your Liberty (9:15–27)

Paul’s refusal to accept wages from those he was serving was the result of a deep conviction. It would be better for me to die than have any man make my boast an empty one. He would rather have been dead than have anyone think he preached and taught for money. He was not a prophet for hire, as was Balaam (Num. 22), or in the ministry “for sordid gain” (1 Pet. 5:2).

This is the kind of commitment we see from Paul, and this is the kind of commitment and deep conviction we should see from leaders and followers of Christ. Radical kind of living. The kind of radical love for others that means giving up what is rightfully yours, that you have earned so that the love of Christ might be shown to others. It’s the same kind of Radical love that Christ has shown us.
For you to be a leader means to show this kind of bold, and different, unique, and radical sacrifice. It will call us to make uncomfortable decisions.
How are those who are watching us going to succeed us? How are they going to follow through from the example they see in us? Will there perception of you lead them to believe that Christ followers are to always “play it safe,” don’t do anything extravagant for Christ. Keep to little things. Don’t stand out too much.
That’s not at all what Christ has commended us to do.
Ecclesiastes 9:10 ESV
Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might, for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going.
2 Timothy 2:15 ESV
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.
Remember that definition of disciple-making I said earlier… “Teaching others to be what I already am.” That’s what it’s about. Showing others the way. Show them the all out attitude for Christ. Teach them to be bold by your actions.
So as a leader (parent, guardian, pastor, deacon, teacher, employer, ministry leader, etc) are we by our actions living our Christian faith by a deeply devoted set of convictions that inspire those watching us to live a life of greater godliness. In other words, does your faith stand out. Is it bold? If not, your actions will continue to keep the church and those who are watching you in a growthless, stagnant rut.
If we simply live in our lane… by attendance, giving, etc… what are we teaching the next generation to do? That living for God is just simply attending church and giving our “10%”. Who then will reach the lost, who then will help the hurting, who then will become teachers, who then will caring the Word of God, who then will serve & sacrifice?
We need to be leader’s with conviction, but also leaders with conduct.

III. The Leader’s Conduct (v. 19-23)

Lets read verses 19-23...
We lay aside our Christian liberties out of love for the weaker brother and the building up of the body of Christ; but we also lay aside our liberties for the sake of the Gospel! Limited Liberties for Limitless Love

Instead of laying aside privileges because of the conscience of the weaker brother, Paul lays privileges aside “lest we hinder the gospel of Christ” (v. 12). He lays aside his privileges for the sake of the gospel. To me that is a far superior reason to any other.

Example of this in the life of Timothy from Acts 16:3
Acts 16:3 ESV
Paul wanted Timothy to accompany him, and he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those places, for they all knew that his father was a Greek.
Why is this such a big deal?
Acts 15:5–6 ESV
But some believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees rose up and said, “It is necessary to circumcise them and to order them to keep the law of Moses.” The apostles and the elders were gathered together to consider this matter.
Acts 15:7–12 ESV
And after there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them, by giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us, and he made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith. Now, therefore, why are you putting God to the test by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.” And all the assembly fell silent, and they listened to Barnabas and Paul as they related what signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles.
Then James would rise up and declare in verse 19
Acts 15:19–20 ESV
Therefore my judgment is that we should not trouble those of the Gentiles who turn to God, but should write to them to abstain from the things polluted by idols, and from sexual immorality, and from what has been strangled, and from blood.
And this letter went out to Antioch and other churches around the world. So why then would a very short time later would Paul circumcise his disciple Timothy?
“Because of the Jews who were in those places...” He did it as our letter to the Corinthians points out in verse 22 “I am made all things to all men that I might by all means save some.” This doesn’t mean that he did sinful practices to save people. This doesn’t mean he put away personal convictions, because he knew that whatever wasn’t of faith was sin. This meant that if there were liberties that he was allowed, he gladly put them aside so the nothing should hinder the gospel of Christ.
Less about me more about the Savior and His Gospel. A good leader knows that his leadership isn’t about themselves. It’s about others. It’s about the needs of others. So many of us simply think of our own selves, how we can live comfort lives, and are annoyed when people get in our way. But that is soooo wrong! It reminds me of this video I once saw called ‘eye service’, it reminds us to have the eyes of Jesus. I would like to close with this video. But before I do, I want to ask again...

Conclusion:

Why would we not make use of our rights?
Love of the Weaker brother (ch. 8)
Desire to Build up the Body of Christ (ch. 8)
Longing to not Lose the Reward and Blessing in Heaven (ch. 9)
Burden to not hinder the Gospel from Reaching the Lost (ch. 9)
I hope as we consider these principles of leadership that we would ask God to change our stubborn selfish hearts, and radically live for Him, influencing others to do the same!
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