Dear Momentum Leaders,
Last week we discussed the idea that leaders are great interpreters of their times. David leaned on the Men of Issachar, as he knew that they understood their times. This week, I want to share with you another example of a leader who interprets reality for his followers.
In Philippians 1, Paul is writing to the church at Philippi. He’s been imprisoned in Rome, and he writes the letter from prison. His followers are troubled. After all, if someone as Godly as their leader Paul can be imprisoned, what hope do they have? Notice how Paul reassures them and interprets his circumstances:
“12 Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. 13 As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. 14 Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.”
Paul tells them that though on the surface his situation looks bleak, it is in fact a great opportunity to advance the gospel. He literally has a “captive” audience! And, others, seeing Paul’s boldness, have been inspired to be bold, too.
There is another problem that Paul needs to interpret for the Philippians. It seems that in Paul’s absence, another crop of preachers has come, but it is clear that their motives for preaching are not the same as Paul’s. Paul assures his followers in this way:
“15 It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. 16 The latter do so in love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17 The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. 18 But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.”
Paul tells his followers how they should think and feel about what has happened to him and to them. And that is a principle for us. There are plenty of times when, even if a leader and his/her followers are doing all the right things, their circumstances might not directly reflect such success. As leaders, we need to have the vision and the strength to be able to interpret reality, even in the midst of hard times. Paul doesn’t claim to have all the answers (he confesses that in the next paragraph), but Paul knows enough to realize that his circumstances are not dire enough for him to stop trusting God.
How is God working in your life? Do your circumstances reflect all that is going on under the surface?
How is God working in the circumstances of those you lead?
How can you best help them interpret their reality?