Leaders Are Nothing, Part Seven

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A word of caution. People in the church do not have the place to go up to church leaders and tell them that they are nothing. Leaders, though they are nothing, deserve respect.

“We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves” (1 Thessalonians 5:12–13). Paul reiterates this in 1 Timothy 5:17: “Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching.”

Everybody is to be respected. We are to respect one another. “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor” (Romans 12:10). Peter says, “Honor everyone” (1 Peter 2:17a).

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Leaders Are Nothing, Part Six

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Please allow me to repeat this. Paul said that he, Peter and Apollos were nothing. Paul wanted to make sure the Corinthian believers understood this so “…that no human being might boast in the presence of God” (1 Corinthians 1:29).

Paul didn’t want a company of people saying they were Paul’s followers, a group who were in “his” fellowship, so they could boast about being in the church of the amazing apostle Paul. He was thankful that he hadn’t baptized many people for that very reason. He simply wanted a church of believers who met together for their mutual strengthening and found their identity only in Jesus Christ.

He wanted to make sure that their “…faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God” (1 Corinthians 2:5).

This is stunning.

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Leaders Are Nothing, Part Five

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From Paul’s point of view, the church was headed in a disastrous, worldly direction when divisions over joining oneself to “charismatic” personalities were materializing. “For when one says, ‘I follow Paul,’ and another, ‘I follow Apollos,’ are you not being merely human?” (1 Corinthians 3:4a).

He tells the Corinthians that both he and Apollos were simply “workers together,” and they were really one: “He who plants and he who waters are one” (1 Corinthians 3:8a). They were both trying to nurture a plant, which God was causing to grow—and by that growth, Paul didn’t mean numerical increase, but rather upward, healthy, fruit-producing development. In all of his writings, Paul did not mention any numbers whatsoever concerning his ministry. That was not his concern. His concern, like that of Jesus, was to make disciples who would follow the Lord to the ends of the earth, willing to sacrifice their own lives.

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