For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your joy in Christ Jesus will overflow on account of me. (NIV)
Paul’s life and testimony is a reflection of a life that was given in dedicated service and in sacrifice to Jesus under the most stressful situations. Paul had been beaten, left for dead. stoned . jailed numerous times, yet through it all he remained faithful to the cause of Jesus Christ unto his dying a martyr's death as he was beheaded under the orders of Nero, the Roman Emporer. Here are several things that stand out about Paul as a Biblical leader:
I. In Philippians 2:17, Paul considered his life as a "drink offering" being poured out"
This was his attitude because of his sacrifice and service in behalf of the Church at Philippi. From the words of this letter of encouragement he wrote to them while sitting in a Philippian jail, he lets them know he was glad to do so for them. Paul expresses this to the church in response to their expressions of concern for his welfare and well being while in incarceration. He let them know that he was more concerned that the Word of God was preached and taught to them,than his immediate status. He told them he was willing to suffer for the cause of Christ if that was what it took. Like Jesus, the Apostle Paul was focussed on the mission of evangelizing the region for Christ and as painful as the journet was for him, he completely humbled himself in total submissiontoward Jesus and the ministry calling upon his life. He didn’t mind suffering for the gospel’s sake, even if it endangered his life.
II. Paul was willing to lay down his very life if by doing so Christ was glorified and the church received edification.
Paul taught in every one of the churches he wrote to in Asia Minor that God paid a high price for our redemption when he allowed the crucifixion of his only begotten Son Jesus Christ. Paul said the "greatest example of love" took place when "Jesus voluntarily hung on that cross at Calvary". He sends us the message that it is really "an act of complete gratitude for us to submit to God the way Jesus Christ submitted to crucifixion and the shame of the cross". The Apostle Peter reminds us in 1 Peter 4:12- 14 not to think it is strange when fiery trial come our way, but rather rejoice because we are partakers of the same kind of suffering that Jesus experienced. Peter said to rejoice in the fact that we are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that when his glory is revealed, we may be glad with exceeding joy. If we are truly suffering for the cause of Jesus Christ, it means that the Spirit of Glory and of God “rests” upon us and is glorified in us even as he is spoken upon in an evil way from the mouth and life of the unbeliever. Both apostles were saying that we have nothing to be ashamed about if we are suffering because of our commitment to Jesus Christ and we are glorifying Christ when we do so.
III. Paul found joy in the fact that he was being persecuted (offered as a drink offering in their behalf)
The reason for this is, as he preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ to them, their acceptance of the Gospel allowed the Ho;ly Spirit to build a church among the Philppian people. Paul exposed himself to constant danger because he was dedicated to the gospel. He did this so others might believe in Jesus Christ and come to accept him as their Messiah. He face fierce opposition from the Judiaserseverywhere he traveled, nevertheless, Paul stood his ground, not even resisting imprisonment in jail. Paul found joy, not regrets for the persecution he constantly endured for the gospel sake. Paul may have considered himself a victim, laid up for the sacrifice, just like Jesus Christ was in our behalf when he was here on the earth.
How can we benefit from the Apostle Paul's exemplary leadership?
Just like Jesus' leadership example, Paul’s also shows us that the call to the gospel ministry is one that requires us to sacrifice personal ambitions and goals that others might see and accept Jesus Christ through the preached word and the teaching of the Word of God. Believers are like sheep, being led to the slaughter because we as servants and ministers preach Jesus, not the rudiments of this world. (Romans 8:36 Submission to God's complete will and a single focus toward Christ and mission is a must! The "mission" is Evangelism! ; to go in the world and preach the Gospel, leading men, women, boys and girls to accept Jesus into their lives as their Savior and Lord. In 2 Timothy 4:6, at the end of Paul’s ministry and his date with death, Paul declared to Timothy that he was ready to be “offered up”, that is, he was ready to die for the cause of Jesus Christ and for the ministry to his people. Paul epitomized an obedient child of God because he sought only to honor God in every aspect of his life.
Paul gives us 3 key elements to a Exemplary Christian Leader:
A. Living by the Word of God
Jesus said that the Word is "a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path". (Psalms 119:105) The Word of God is our guide to successful living and quality service to God on the battlefield. It is the sword of the Spirit. It contains every solution to every one of this life’s problems and challenges. John tells us in John 17:17 God’s word is truth. It is the path to truth and exposes all truths, powers, principalities, rulers of the darkness of this world, as well as “spiritual” wickedness in high places.
B. Being led by The Holy Spirit.
In Ephesians 3:20- 21, It is the Holy Spirit that works within us. Paul lets us know that God uses the Holy Spirit in this dispensation to do exceedingly and in abundance everything we ask or think to ask concerning our relationship with Him and in becoming empowered to do the work of the ministry. Jesus told us in John 14 the Holy Spirit will guide us toward all truth concerning Jesus himself. The Holy Spirit also imparts various spiritual gifts from God the Father, equipping the minister and believer to do the work of the ministry through the power of God.
C. A consistent Prayer Life.
The importance of prayer cannot never be over emphasized. In the King James Version of the bible, there are 114 instances of prayers either asked or answered. There are at least 313 instances where the word “pray” appears in various meanings. This lets us know that prayer is the other powerful weapon in our arsenal and an integral part of the “armor” of God. We have been told to pray without ceasing and to be “instant” (ready at all times) to pray. Prayer is our “hotline” to God and is our primary way of communication to our creator and the essential key to getting those temporal things we need from him.
Finally, Paul represented a “star” (glimmer of light) shining in a darken world, spreading the “light” of the gospel to the Gentile Christians. He was also pictured as a “runner” in Philippians 2:16. Paul represented a “torch bearer”, running through the world carrying the Word of God as the eternal flame that light up the heart of men to follow Jesus, the light of the world. In verse 18, he called himself a “drink offering” being poured out on the altar because he suffered heavy persecution for being a ministry and servant of Jesus Christ. Jesus reminds each of us that we too are to be shinning lights in a darken world. We are to let our light shine before men that they may see the good works and glorify the Lord in heaven. We are to expect persecution, especially from other religious people, some within the same institution churches we serve and have membership with. Jesus told us we will have tribulation on this journey, but to be of “good” cheer because he has overcome the world, giving us the power to become more than conquerors, through him because he loves us that much. (John 16:33) (Romans 8:37) Great leaders are always persecuted because they always face jealousy from among their peers but they remain true to the task given