Paul’s Heart for the Church


What is a spiritual leader? In the passage below, Paul gives a jam-packed crash course on spiritual leadership in the church of God. If leading others is hard, leading others spiritually is impossible. Paul states right from the get-go that the power source to lead others spiritually is the Holy Spirit. We are responsible to “care for the church of God,” empowered by the Spirit.

  • In your experience, what has helped you feel cared for by the church? How have you cared for God’s church?


28 Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. 29 I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. 31 Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears. 32 And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified. 33 I coveted no one’s silver or gold or apparel. 34 You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my necessities and to those who were with me. 35 In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

36 And when he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all. 37 And there was much weeping on the part of all; they embraced Paul and kissed him, 38 being sorrowful most of all because of the word he had spoken, that they would not see his face again. And they accompanied him to the ship.

English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


  1. Paul began by advising his readers to pay careful attention to themselves as well as the flock. What relationship does taking care of yourself have with taking care of others?
  2. In verse 29, Paul issued a warning. What was the danger, and how did he advise dealing with it?
  3. Verses 31 and 36-38 give us a glimpse of Paul’s heart and relationship with this flock. How did he describe how he felt about the church?
  4. In verse 32, Paul emphasized that the Word of God is central in their ministry. How did he describe what the Word of God is able to accomplish?
  5. How does your hard work and generosity affect those you minister to (vss. 34-35)?


Pay careful attention to yourselves and the flock.
Watch out for the wolves.
Make the Word of God central.
Give generously, and give your heart so freely that when you depart, the tears flow.

This passage gives us a beautiful glimpse of Paul’s passion for God’s church. Oftentimes, for us, church can simply be a place we attend versus a community we have a vital connection to and are on mission with to proclaim the good news to the world. Is your love for God’s church as passion-filled as that of Paul?

If you left your church, would anyone know?
Are you known? How well do you know others?
Do you want others to hear the Word of God?
How do you feel about inviting those outside the church into it?

If someone joined the church and started teaching false doctrine, how much would that bother you?

  • Pray and ask God to give you a passion and personal vision for loving God’s church the way Paul did, and the way God does.