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Sermon Summary - Paul: The Model of Church Leadership - Acts 20:13-21

Paul: The Model of Church Leadership

Acts 20:13-21

Paul’s admonition to the church leaders raises a few questions for us Christians. Are we living for ourselves? Are we submitting to the work of the Holy Spirit, developing a servant’s mentality to Jesus? Are we living double lives? Or do we live a life of transparency? Are we growing in humility? Are we remaining faithful to Christ during trials? In his speech to the elders of the Ephesian church, Paul reflects on his own life and conduct during his ministry. This speech is an exhortation to the leaders of the church, but it also shows us the marks and qualities all of us are meant to pursue. Paul’s hope is that the legacy of his faithful preaching and living will continue through the church leaders and their ministry.

Pastors, elders and other church leaders are called to have a servant’s attitude just as Paul mentioned in Acts 20:18-19, “You yourselves know how I lived among you the whole time from the first day that I set foot in Asia, serving the Lord”. Paul claims and assumes that a godly church leader is like an obedient, faithful slave to his master. The conviction of living to please God is what allowed him to preach difficult truths. Paul knows the reality that we are owned by God; “You are not your own, for you were bought with a price” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20), so we are called to serve as faithful slaves to Christ. 

Christ-centered leadership is marked by transparency, which means that who you are in private is who you are in public, and humility, which is a conscious awareness of being dependent on the Lord, just as Paul says in 2 Corinthians 3:5-6  ”Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant.” The humble person is constantly amazed at God’s saving grace in their life. The second characteristic that Paul mentions is a servanthood that loves as he said in verse 19, “serving the Lord with all humility and tears.” Paul loved to teach, he loved relationships which is why Luke later writes “And there was much weeping on the part of all; they embraced Paul and kissed him, being sorrowful most of all because of the word he had spoken, that they would not see his face again" (Acts 20:37-38). The third characteristic is serving the Lord with trials. Paul reminds the elders about his sufferings against the plots of the Jews. In all this, Paul saw the hand of God working in him making him humble. 

The servant’s attitude of being a slave of Christ is to walk in transparency, humility, loving others with tears, and steadfastness in trials. Paul sets the example and tells the church leaders “I did not shrink away from declaring to you anything that was profitable (Acts 20:20).” Paul knew that the gospel could be difficult for some people to receive, but he also knew that God’s truths in Jesus Christ were important and helpful for every Christian, so he continued to preach, not holding back anything. Paul had an urgent demeanor when he testified “both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 20:21). Humor is a wonderful trait, but it should not be used when speaking of heavy gospel issues. Paul also mentioned repentance and faith, the requirement for salvation in Jesus. This is Paul’s standard for church leaders and every Christian, as we are called to servanthood, transparency, humility and sound doctrine. 

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