Leader’s Job Description
Lord, today is the day that You have made! Let us rejoice and be glad in it!
Read 1 CORINTHIANS 4:1–21
This, then, is how you ought to regard us: as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the mysteries God has revealed. 2 Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. 3 I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. 4 My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. 5 Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God.
6 Now, brothers and sisters, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, “Do not go beyond what is written.” Then you will not be puffed up in being a follower of one of us over against the other. 7 For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?
8 Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! You have begun to reign—and that without us! How I wish that you really had begun to reign so that we also might reign with you! 9 For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of the procession, like those condemned to die in the arena. We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to human beings. 10 We are fools for Christ, but you are so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are honored, we are dishonored! 11 To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless. 12 We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; 13 when we are slandered, we answer kindly. We have become the scum of the earth, the garbage of the world—right up to this moment.
Paul’s Appeal and Warning
14 I am writing this not to shame you but to warn you as my dear children. 15 Even if you had ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. 16 Therefore I urge you to imitate me. 17 For this reason I have sent to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church.
18 Some of you have become arrogant, as if I were not coming to you. 19 But I will come to you very soon, if the Lord is willing, and then I will find out not only how these arrogant people are talking, but what power they have. 20 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power. 21 What do you prefer? Shall I come to you with a rod of discipline, or shall I come in love and with a gentle spirit?
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Paul told the Corinthians that the One who judges him is the Lord. What a relief to know that we are ultimately to be judged in perfect righteousness.
Paul does not want to be the object of a celebrity cult, but he does feel that he deserves the support and prayers of the believers. Here he
asks for the Corinthian Christians to regard him and his team as servants of Christ, for that is what they are, despite being treated as if they were only “the rubbish scraped off the plate and thrown away” (N. T. Wright, Paul for Everyone: 1 Corinthians).
Paul is aware from earlier correspondence that there are certain pseudo-apostles at Corinth who make bombastic claims for themselves, taking advantage of immature believers. So Paul sketches out a job description for those who would serve God in the church. It includes faithfulness (2), a clear conscience before God (4), a high view of Scripture (6), an awareness that their gifts come from the Lord (7), a willingness to suffer (11), a willingness to work for their own support (12), a forgiving, enduring, and kind outlook (12) and even a willingness to be treated as the scum of the earth (13)!
The church may have many guardians, a role usually given to household slaves with the responsibility of educating the master’s children, but not many fathers (Duncan Watkinson, Where Are the Fathers? Building Healthy Churches through Spiritual Parenting). Today’s church needs fathers. Only parents can feel for their children and care for them in the way that Paul did. He becomes their father by virtue of having founded the church, but also in his willingness to lay his life down for their sakes. How sad it is when we find church leaders who act as mere hired hands and who have no real care for God’s people (John 10:12,13). This is not a suggestion of terms or titles for leaders (Matt. 23:9,10) but that the church members should honor those who care for them as would a parent.
Think about those who have influenced your faith as Paul did for these Corinthians. Pray for them and think about your own role in spiritually parenting others.
Lord, give me a greater appreciation of those who have helped me to mature in the faith.