As I observe political elections, candidates seem to focus on the negatives of the opposing candidate more than the positives of their own candidacy. There is a constant comparison in their criticism of the opposing candidates, with the thought being, “As long as I look better than the opposing candidate, I have a better chance of winning an election.” Ironically, we are looking to these candidates to lead with “leadership qualities” that we would greatly criticize in any other capacity. In today’s passage, however, we see Paul lead in a completely different way.
- How have you experienced poor leadership? Conversely, what kind of leadership do you convey to others?
READ THE WORD: 2 CORINTHIANS 10:7-18 (ESV)
7 Look at what is before your eyes. If anyone is confident that he is Christ’s, let him remind himself that just as he is Christ’s, so also are we. 8 For even if I boast a little too much of our authority, which the Lord gave for building you up and not for destroying you, I will not be ashamed. 9 I do not want to appear to be frightening you with my letters. 10 For they say, “His letters are weighty and strong, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech of no account.” 11 Let such a person understand that what we say by letter when absent, we do when present. 12 Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding.
13 But we will not boast beyond limits, but will boast only with regard to the area of influence God assigned to us, to reach even to you. 14 For we are not overextending ourselves, as though we did not reach you. For we were the first to come all the way to you with the gospel of Christ. 15 We do not boast beyond limit in the labors of others. But our hope is that as your faith increases, our area of influence among you may be greatly enlarged, 16 so that we may preach the gospel in lands beyond you, without boasting of work already done in another’s area of influence. 17 “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” 18 For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.
- What was the purpose of Paul’s “boasting” in verse 8?
- How might you paraphrase verse 11? What was Paul’s warning in verse 12?
- In verses 13-16, Paul wrote about areas of influence. What is the goal of the ministry within these areas of influence (vs. 16)?
- Verses 17 and 18 contrast with verse 12. What was Paul’s focus? Who was his point of reference?
- What are some areas of influence that God has assigned to you (work, neighbors, social groups, schools, sports teams, etc.)? How are you revealing the gospel message to people in those areas? Are there any ways you are commending yourself or comparing yourself to others as you seek to minister to those around you?
RESPOND TO GOD
A true leader is a servant, and a true servant leader is genuine—his or her words and actions match. A true servant leader points to his or her master and doesn’t try to build himself up by comparison or by laying claim to someone else’s work. A true servant leader can rejoice when the mission is enlarged, and has only one point of reference, Jesus. It’s not what we say about ourselves that matters, but what God says about us. When we compare ourselves to others, Paul’s words remind us that our point of reference is wrong. Our only point of reference is Jesus.
- Ask God how to minister in your areas of influence.
- Confess if you have been commending or comparing yourself, and pray that God would change your point of reference to Jesus.