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Paul on Leadership – Part IV

Week 4: A Leader is a Teacher: Acts 17:22 – 34

Well my friends we have come far in the past three weeks we have been together. You may be like me and be a little overwhelmed by the first three weeks, but I hope that you are challenged, as I am, by what we have covered in the first three weeks as well. This week we will continue with our observation of Paul through the Book of Acts and we will see another important characteristic for leaders to posses. This week we will focus our attention on a passage of scripture in Acts chapter seventeen verses twenty-two through thirty-four.

In this passage we see Paul doing on of the things we come to recognize and appreciate in the New Testament about Paul, that is he is teaching. Paul is in the city of Athens a city that is described in verse sixteen as a city, “full of idols” and once again as we already discussed Paul sees the idols and the Spirit leads him to begin teaching or reasoning. As a result of Paul’s obedience to the Spirit’s leading Paul finds himself with a platform in front of the Areopagus to proclaim the gospel. He speaks to a group of highly intellectual and influential philosophers and as David Stern states, “offers knowledge in lieu of ignorance.” In doing so, Paul does one of the most unique and important things one can gather from this passage about being a teacher. Paul shares the gospel with this unbelieving philosophers in a way that would resonate with them and in a way that they would be able to accept.

You see, every good leader must be a teacher and what makes all great teachers exceptional is that they are able to communicate to others in a way that the student or hearer can understand and comprehend. Paul does just that in this passage and it is significantly different from most of his teachings in that he uses no Old Testament references but instead references some of the philosophers they would have respected. In this small details we see a beautiful truth about being a leader. A leader must be a teacher and teacher must be a learner. Now do not misunderstand what I mean by a leader must be a teacher. I am not saying every leader must be a preacher or even a teacher as defined in a class room type of setting, but every leader must be able to communicate to people the truth’s about God and his direction. In addition, every leader must be continually learning and listening to God and looking for ways to communicate God’s truth to others and that is exactly what we see from Paul here.

Paul recognizes Athens as a city full of idols and begins as we all must by building on the fact and knowledge of the true God and he demonstrates this using one of their idols and creation. Paul is observing, looking, learning from his environment and looks for opportunities to stay true to the passion and purpose of his calling, listening to the Spirit’s leading and then teaching. As leaders in the kingdom, we cannot forget that what this is all about is people meeting the King, Jesus our Lord and Savior, and coming to know him better. For that to occur we must look for opportunities to teach about him and when they come we must take them and proclaim his greatness in a way that others can understand and relate to.

Why is it so important that we must teach? As verses thirty-four demonstrates when we teach about Jesus some might believe and join his kingdom. It was Paul who later wrote in the book of Romans chapter ten verse fourteen, “How are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard?” If our ministry is really about people knowing him and knowing him more then we must be willing to step up and speak about him. This my friends is always teaching, whether it is preaching, teaching a class, or having a discussion with one individual. There are many ways to teach and many styles in teaching to use, but they key is that are you teaching others about Jesus.

To do so you must be continually learning about him, but also you must be continually learning about the world around you just as Paul was in this passage. If Paul would have stood before these intellectual men and started quoting the Old Testament to demonstrate Jesus as Lord and Savior he most likely would have been completely dismissed. However, we can not loose sight of the fact that some believed and followed Jesus because Paul was obedient to his calling, he was listening to the Spirit, he was purposeful in his mission, he was passionate about his mission, he was learning as he was walking through life with Jesus, and when the opportunity presented itself he stood and taught about Jesus. If you want to stand as leader for Jesus then you must be willing to follow in Paul’s footsteps. The question then is simple, will you? What are you learning, are you observing, will you speak for him, and are you ready to teach about him in whatever situation you find yourself?

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