Read 1 Corinthians 4.
Some Christians have a regal view of the ministry. That is, they see pastors and other ministry leaders like monarchs. They look up to us, in some ways, so they think that everyone must give us honor and respect and treat us with reverence.
Paul continued, here in 1 Corinthians 4, correcting the false ideas the Corinthians had about ministry leaders. Paul and Apollos were not in competition ( 1 Cor 2) with each other but instead were partners together in God’s work (1 Cor 3).
So, here in chapter 4, he says, think of us as “servants of Christ” (v. 1) who must be faithful (v. 2). Instead of living like modern day royals, Paul said we ministry leaders are “fools for Christ” (v. 10a). Instead of being put on a pedestal, we are paraded like prisoners of war (v. 9).
While some people treat us with honor and respect, that’s not the norm. Instead, people “curse” us (v. 12b) and “we are slandered” (v. 13a). People think we are the “scum of the earth, the garbage of the world” (v. 13c).
Being an elder is not majestic. It isn’t easy or particularly fun most of the time. When we are mistreated, we have to respond in a godly way, not the way we might want to. That means “When we are cursed, we bless…; when we are slandered, we answer kindly” (v. 12, 13). Most of the people in our church are kind to me. But some people have said the most unkind things to me or about me, sometimes in public meetings.
But, enough about me. Given what you know about ministry, don’t you want to become a ministry leader? That’s where Paul turned next in this chapter. Despite the pain that ministry leadership can bring, Paul wanted to build more leaders.
The Corinthians didn’t have enough “fathers” (v. 15). They needed more so Paul said, “I urge you to imitate me” (v. 16). He also sent Timothy to them to “remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church.”
That’s the essence of spiritual leadership: Know the truth. Teach the truth. Live the truth. Then encourage others to do the same.
No church has enough leaders. Our church could certainly use more. Are you growing in your knowledge of God’s truth? Are you teaching it while simultaneously living it out?
None of us is perfect but, when there is sin in your life that is out of step with what we believe and teach, are you dealing with it biblically?
This is what the church needs so that the gospel can advance and people can be redeemed from this lost, cursed world. Will you step up to the need and become a spiritual father?