Strong Teaching of the Apostle and Servant Leadership

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teaching of the apostle and leadershipHelpful Servant Leader Styles of the Apostle Paul

The teaching of the Apostle Paul is a powerful learning tool for those wanting to lead and to serve.  What can we learn from Paul, the apostle and his skill as a servant leadership?

Paul, after his conversion on the Road to Damascus, became an early follower of Christ.  He actively followed the teachings and example of Jesus.

In his writings and missionary journeys, it is evident that the Apostle became a public and private leader.  The ministry and mission strategies of the Apostle Paul are strongly related to the leadership style of Jesus.

The Teaching of the Apostle Embraced Jesus’ Servant-Leadership Style

When reading the New Testament, it is easy to see that Jesus had a clear strategy plan in leading and teaching people.

  1. He used simple stories to tell a compelling truth (Parables).
  2. He taught lessons to a large crowd of people on occasions (the Sermon on the Mount).
  3. He trained and shared his vision and goals to a small group of followers (the Twelve Disciples).

Even though Paul does not use parables in the same way that Jesus did, his writings to Christian believers are strong teaching tools.  Jesus taught in ways that others recorded and wrote down.  Paul taught and led others through letters he wrote to the early Christian church. As many as thirteen of the twenty-seven books of the New Testament have been attributed to Paul.

Paul also spoke to large crowds of people as Jesus did. One of his teachings to a large gathering can be found in Acts 17:22-31

22 So Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I observe that you are very religious in all respects. 23 For while I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, ‘TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.’ Therefore what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you. 24 The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; 25 nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; 26 and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, 27 that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; 28 for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.’ 29 Being then the children of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man. 30 Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, 31 because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.”

It can also be noted that Paul was attempting to follow the teaching strategy of Jesus by moving from large gatherings to the recruitment of a handful of people.  This behavior is seen in his missionary work with people like Barnabas, Silas and John Mark.

Teaching and leading “one-on-one” is a challenge for any leader.  It certainly was with Paul.

The Teaching of the Apostle About Servant Leadership Evolved Through Conflict

Paul’s plan to share the Good News showed itself to be a “one-on-one” shared ministry when he aligned himself with another believer.  His first connection was with a Christian believer named Barnabas.

Paul’s plan of working together with someone else follows the leading style of Jesus that is shown in the Gospel of Luke in the creation of teams of two.

“After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go.” (Luke 10:1-2)

Barnabas and Paul worked together faithfully for awhile but came to a very abrupt end in their relationship.

Barnabas recruited a young man named John, who Paul seemed to have a problem with (Acts 15:37-39).  This issue caused Paul and Barnabas to go in different directions, which led Paul to recruit another man by the name of Silas (Acts 15:40).

Conflict does not have to be destructive.  In fact, conflict can be a catalyst that produces a progressive effort that could not created any other way.

In their disagreement over John, Paul and Barnabas seemingly worked to keep their relationship respectful and focused on spreading the gospel, just in different directions.  In Acts 15:41, Paul is seen as having a fruitful ministry in Syria and Cilicia, while Barnabas headed to Cyrus.

Conflict and disagreement can produce great success if tempers do not get out of control.  These two, Paul and Barnabas, proved that conflict could produce new strategies with robust results.

The Teaching of the Apostle Paul’s in Public and Private

Acts chapter 20 tells the story of how Paul taught various people in different locations such as Assos, Mitylene, Chios, Samos, Miletus and Ephesus.

“We went on ahead to the ship and sailed for Assos, where we were going to take Paul aboard. He had made this arrangement because he was going there on foot. When he met us at Assos, we took him aboard and went on to Mitylene.  The next day we set sail from there and arrived off Chios. The day after that we crossed over to Samos, and on the following day arrived at Miletus.  Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus to avoid spending time in the province of Asia, for he was in a hurry to reach Jerusalem, if possible, by the day of Pentecost. From Miletus, Paul sent to Ephesus for the elders of the church. 18 When they arrived, he said to them: “You know how I lived the whole time I was with you, from the first day I came into the province of Asia.” (Acts 20:13-18)

In Paul’s approach to teaching, he made it clear that he was a follower of the leadership style of Jesus when he said,  “You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly and from house to house.”  (Acts 20:20)

Paul’s strategy was one of both public leadership and private leadership.  This was the same strategy of teaching that Jesus used.

The Teaching of the Apostle About the Benefits of Servant Leadership

A productive servant leader has some very basic skills that can be applied in both an opened gathering of many people or a small group of a few people.  Here are just a few qualities that the Apostle Paul showed in his teaching and leading skills.

  • A strong servant leader sets high expectations for those they lead.
  • A strong servant leader has a clear objectives and a mission.
  • A strong servant leader is organized.
  • A strong servant leader engages those they lead.
  • A strong servant leader creates healthy relationships with their students and show that they care about them as people.
  • A strong servant leader is confident in what they teach.
  • A strong servant leader communicates often with those they lead.

These practices of Paul were identical to the teaching and leadership style of Jesus.

What do you think about the teaching of the Apostle Paul and his leadership style?

Dale Roach

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