I had the privilege recently to film a course on servant leadership for Seminary Now (you can check out the trailer for the course here). In one of the ten sessions, I seek to provide a model for biblical servant leadership as exemplified by Paul, the Apostle. Let me share an aspect of that model with you here.
Paul saw himself as an “apostle,” a sent one. When he addressed his readers, he called himself “an apostle of Christ Jesus” (1 Cor. 1:1; Eph. 1:1; Titus 1:1). An apostle was one sent by another with the authority to represent the one who sent him or her. To be sent was to be on mission for the one who sent him. Paul was not among the original apostles co-missioned with Christ to make disciples, but he understood he was sent by Christ to make disciples of the Gentiles. His life’s purpose and direction emanated from his mission given to him by Christ Jesus. This sense of being sent by Christ was THE motivating factor in his life and work.
Paul also saw himself as a “steward,” a household servant who the owner put in charge of managing the family’s resources with delegated responsibility and authority. Paul reminded the church in Ephesus “about the stewardship of God’s grace” that was given to him for their sake (Eph. 3:2, 9). God had made him a steward, an investment manager, of God’s grace so the Ephesians would benefit from it. He wrote to his friends in Corinth to regard Apollos and himself as “servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God” (1 Cor. 4:1). Paul was sent with a message. He was to steward the grace and mysteries of God. He was to manage and invest the things of God in the lives of those to whom he was sent.
Paul was a sent steward—sent by Christ to people beyond Jewish heritage and a steward of God’s grace and mysteries told in the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
What does Paul’s example mean for you? As a biblical servant leader,
- You are sent by Christ to those in your circles of influence.
- You steward the message and mysteries of Christ for the sake of those to whom you have been sent.
- If you embrace these truths, your “to do” and “contact” lists will take on new meaning and focus.
What are some implications of being a sent steward?
- You do not need to create your life mission. You only need to be creative in living out the mission Christ has sent you to complete; that is, to make disciples who follow Jesus.
- A sense of being sent or of being on mission for Christ can motivate you to bold action. Being sent never begs the question, “What should I do today?” You do what you were sent to do in whatever circumstances or people group you find yourself.
- You do not need to invent your unique life message. The One who sent you has given you the message you are to deliver to those to whom he has sent you.
More on being sent:
Forgotten Ways: Reactivating Apostolic Movements; Alan Hirsch, 2016 ed.
The Road to Missional: Journey to the Center of the Church; Michael Frost, 2011