Stay the Course


On my desk is a note that reads “Stay the course.” I won’t bore you with my long-term career goals as an artist, but for many years I have been working to achieve what I set out to do. This commitment has required tremendous sacrifice, and many nights I have wondered if my time would be better spent pursuing an easier journey. But I’m always reassured in my call when I look down to see those words. Stay the course. In today’s passage, Paul refuses to be distracted from the great course and mission God put in his heart.

  • What great course has God put you on?


18 After this, Paul stayed many days longer and then took leave of the brothers and set sail for Syria, and with him Priscilla and Aquila. At Cenchreae he had cut his hair, for he was under a vow. 19 And they came to Ephesus, and he left them there, but he himself went into the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews. 20 When they asked him to stay for a longer period, he declined. 21 But on taking leave of them he said, “I will return to you if God wills,” and he set sail from Ephesus.

22 When he had landed at Caesarea, he went up and greeted the church, and then went down to Antioch. 23 After spending some time there, he departed and went from one place to the next through the region of Galatia and Phrygia, strengthening all the disciples.

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


  1. How many places did Paul visit in these six verses?
  2. What patterns did Paul follow when he arrived in a new place?
  3. What can we determine about Paul’s character and mission from verses 20-21?
  4. How does verse 23 convey the ultimate purpose of Paul’s journey?
  5. What mission has God given to you? How well have you stayed the course in pursuing it?


New friends, a weird haircut vow, and sailing around the world. It’s a fairly normal sequence of events for Paul. Throughout Acts, Paul has numerous opportunities to put down roots and remain in one place for the rest of his life. But that’s not the mission he was given. God did not choose Paul to plant a single church and make sure everyone in that city came to follow Christ. He chose Paul as an instrument to spread the gospel to the entire known world as quickly and effectively as possible. For Paul to stay the course, he had to make disciples and keep moving. Even when it was difficult to leave friends behind. Even when communities wished for him to stay. Even when leaving meant dying. What is your course?

  • Pray that you would be useful in the work God is doing around the world.
  • Pray that God would help you to be faithful to the mission he has given you.