Just like most Christians, I am an admirer of Apostle Paul – one of the most influential leaders of the early Christian church. Paul played a critical role in spreading the gospel to the Gentiles (non-Jews) during the first century, and his missionary journeys took him all throughout the Roman empire.
It is recorded that Paul started more than a dozen churches, and he’s considered the author of 13 books of the Bible – more than any other biblical writer. This is why he is often considered one of the most influential people in Christian history. Arguably, he had a greater impact on the world’s religious landscape than any other person besides Jesus.
Before he was known for his celebrated contribution in Christianity, Paul was actually known for persecuting Christians. The Book of Acts tells us that Paul was even present at the death of the first Christian martyr—where he “approved the stoning of Stephen” in Acts 8:1. From the time of the early church to date, many books have been written about Paul and his teachings. However, it is a simple WhatsApp chat from my friend and our ministry supporter, Nasi, that drew me deeper into the life of this one man, a chief sinner, who was saved by God’s grace that enabled him make such contribution to the Kingdom.
Nasi was reading from the book of Acts and shared some insights about Paul’s leadership that are applicable to all Believers today. Here are the six lessons she drew and my response in humility and total surrender to God:
1. Paul surrendered his life to his Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. He pledged to learn and live by the entire counsel of God. What do your calendar, bank account , thought life, speech, bucket list and daily communication show you are most passionate about?
When I pondered on this first point, I confessed to needing Jesus’ Grace and the Holy Spirit’s help to rework on my priorities. Many a times I have veered off my dedication and devotion to my Lord and Saviour. I sometimes allow the worries and cares of this world and the deceitfulness of wealth and fame to trouble me.
Mark 4:19AMP …but the worries and cares of the world [the distractions
of this age with its worldly pleasures], and the deceitfulness [and the false security or glamour] of wealth [or fame], and the passionate desires for all the other things creep in and choke out the word, and it becomes unfruitful.
I see from the life of Paul that when he followed only and only the counsel of God, all these other things followed him.
2. Paul’s aim and goal was to make Jesus Christ known. His secret to contentment in every situation was to trust: ‘I can do all things through him who strengthens me’ (Philippians 4:13). Kindly note that God gives believers enough time, energy, wisdom, grace and spiritual power to do everything He intends them to do each day. How might embracing this truth change your perspective on loving Christ and leading others?
When I pondered on this question, I realized that if I live this reality, every day, then my choices and decisions will change significantly. I then leaned on the Holy Spirit and asked Him to help me because He is the great Teacher. I surrendered my life to His leading me into all truth so that I can increase in my love for Christ and the desire to lead those within my reach to knowing Christ.
3. Paul’s teaching was complete. He believed the Holy Spirit makes God’s Word clear and applicable. Paul taught both the Old and New Testament. Are there parts of Scripture you avoid studying or teaching? If so, why?
This question took me back to a Pastor’s conference I was so privileged to facilitate in December of 2019. Yes there are some sections of the Bible I did not feel were very relevant today. However, through the conference, the facilitator, the senior Pastor of the Pyungkang Cheil Presbyterian Church is Seoul, opened our eyes to see that all Scripture is beneficial for the believer. Not just the New Testament but all, including the Old Testament.
2 Timothy 3:16AMP All Scripture is God-breathed [given by divine inspiration] and is profitable for instruction, for conviction [of sin], for correction [of error and restoration to obedience], for training in righteousness [learning to live in conformity to God’s will, both publicly and privately—behaving honorably with personal integrity and moral courage]; so that the man of God may be complete and proficient, outfitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work.
When I read portions of Scripture that I do not fully understand at the moment, I look to the Holy Spirit to give me understanding. And if I do not feel like I have received it, I move on in faith, fully knowing that the seed of the Word of God has been planted in my heart. The Holy Spirit will quicken that word at the right time – at some point in my life. Then I will experience a light-bulb-moment. Aha!
4. Paul’s teaching was universal. He taught large public audiences and in homes. He shared the gospel with believers and unbelievers. There is one way to be saved from sin. There is one way to be set apart for eternal life with God: By GRACE alone – through FAITH alone – in CHRIST alone. How can you break down barriers in your community to share the gospel with others?
A few weeks before, during our staff devotions at the ministry we serve in, we asked ourselves why the fire to do evangelism has been going down over the years. Not just in me and my team, but also in people – good Christians – around us? We floated a few suggestions.
The greatest motivator to evangelism should not be a list of our failures, or the sad statistics that often flood mission magazines. Rather than guilting the church to passionately share Christ, we should be reminded of what saved us in the first place.
Romans 5:10-11Amp For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, it is much more certain, having been reconciled, that we will be saved [from the consequences of sin] by His life [that is, we will be saved because Christ lives today]. Not only that, but we also rejoice in God [rejoicing in His love and perfection] through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received and enjoy our reconciliation [with God].
The love of God saved us. With no effort of our own, as we were God’s enemies, but that did not stop Him from looking for us. He used someone else or many people to plant the seed, water it then He gave the increase. Now that we are in His Kingdom, we must allow to be used of Him to reach out to the remaining lost people.
Paul says that the love of God compels him, thus leading him to be an ambassador for Christ in 2 Corinthians 5:14-21. I knelt down besides the sofa and asked God to help me overcome whatever barriers that keep me from sharing my faith, and fill me with His compelling love for His people.
Sometimes I do feel that someone else, say X, is more qualified to reach out to that brother or sister Y. The paradox is, someone else X is feeling the same about me and so brother or sister Y goes on un-evangelized because it’s not my or your responsibility. May we say as Isaiah said, Send me my Lord I will go (Isaiah 6:8)
I also asked God to help me not be too busy – every pre-occupied with things and lacking time to be intimate with God which in turn should affect my passion to bring others to the same place.
And I need to overcome the fear of man. We have become a very individualistic society – everyone minding their own business quietly in our walled houses even when we can clearly see our neighbour is on the fast lane to hell. After all, it’s Scriptural to live a quiet life and mind our business (1 Thessalonians 4:11). This is a discussion for another day, however, quietly watching your brother or sister go to hell is not minding your business.
Lastly, the Lord was calling me out of my Christian bubble. Salt is used to give flavour to unsalted food. Light illuminates dark places. How can I be the salt or the light of the world when all the food around me is salted and the room I am in is beaming bright? God was calling me to go out there and reach out to non-believers and not just hang around my Christian friends. While that has it’s part as Paul says about not neglecting the fellowship of brethren in Hebrews 10:25.
5. Paul’s teaching was tough. Suffering did not derail him. Paul believed the Holy Spirit would work through him in every circumstance to accomplish Gods purposes. Do you let opposition such as illness , failure, discomfort and criticism compromise your future opportunities?
While I am naturally a determined person, many a times when faced with persecution, I start to wonder what’s the point? However, if Jesus, our Master, was persecuted, called names, falsely accused and even not believed by many – who am I as His follower to think that Christian walk will be a walk in the path? God has not hid it from us that we will meet harships, the only assurance we have is that we will overcome because Jesus already overcame – even the sting of death.
This is easier said than done. My prayer is that when the storms rage in my life, I can remember that God is there with me. That the love of God, the grace of Jesus Christ and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit will carry me through to the other side.
6. Paul’s teaching flowed from humility, gratitude, grace and love. Paul, the greatest church worker the world has ever known, saw himself as the worst sinner saved by grace. He thought of himself as the least and was most eager to serve others. He valued each person as Gods creation. He graciously met people where they were – to call them to new life with Christ. With whom do you need to share the good news of the abundant life Christ provides?
So I said a prayer for myself. That I may see people from God’s lenses. So I can see the great value their Creator and Maker has placed on them. It does not matter what position people hold in life – that I may not esteem others more better because of their material possessions or societal placings. That I daily have eternity in perspective and in everything I do, i may bring more souls to the Kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
I say that prayer to you also. May the Lord speak to you beyond the actual words from this post as written by Nelly Kagoru and myself. In Jesus Name. Amen!
About Guest Contributor: Nelly Kagoru
Nelly Kagoru is a born again Christian, certified counselor, speaker, mentor, and author. She is an alumna of Amani Counseling and Training Institute and DePaul University (Chicago). She is the founder of Dream of a Child International Organization – an NGO that reaches out to the vulnerable children in the informal settlements.
Recently, Nelly established Relationships Breakthrough – a mentorship programme that is committed to transforming relationships through timeless Biblical principles. She is passionate about relationships and empowerment, and she is persuaded that the principle of accountability which provides checks and balances is the missing link to enable people enjoy healthier relationships; take responsibility for their destiny; and achieve greatness while strengthening their walk of faith.
One thing that she is certain about is “what you create accountability for is what you get.” She is married to George and together they are blessed with three wonderful children: Stephanie, Aimée and Jonathan.
“To break away from the daily routine of work, Nelly enjoys an
edifying conversation over a brewed cup of spiced tea in a serene
and natural environment. “