Leadership in Love
1 Corinthians 16:13 Keep alert, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong. 14 Let all that you do be done in love.
15 Now, brothers and sisters,[b] you know that members of the household of Stephanas were the first converts in Achaia, and they have devoted themselves to the service of the saints; 16 I urge you to put yourselves at the service of such people, and of everyone who works and toils with them. 17 I rejoice at the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus, because they have made up for your absence; 18 for they refreshed my spirit as well as yours. So give recognition to such persons.
19 The churches of Asia send greetings. Aquila and Prisca, together with the church in their house, greet you warmly in the Lord. 20 All the brothers and sisters[c] send greetings. Greet one another with a holy kiss.
21 I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. 22 Let anyone be accursed who has no love for the Lord. Our Lord, come![d] 23 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you. 24 My love be with all of you in Christ Jesus.[e]
This letter from Paul closes with these very personal remarks. He dearly loves the people of Corinth and that love oozes from the beginning to the end of his comments. Everything is to be done in love — this is his desire for those who are a part of the Corinthian church. The love of Christ is to be a very part of their nature in their work, day in and day out.
Paul becomes practical when he speaks of particular individuals who have been faithful and who have served in love. He encourages the loving response to these and the proper recognition.
Paul shares the love which comes from other servants who have served in the city. Greetings and the sharing of Christ’s love are witnessed in the holy kiss shared among God’s people.
Finally, the entire section concludes with Paul’s love overflowing to the Corinthians in Christ Jesus. Love defines his leadership from beginning to end.
There are lots of conversations, seminars and books on servant leadership these days. Why should that surprise us when servant leadership defines the way in which Christ served us, his people. This is holy week and we are living that life with Christ, day by day as we watch him go to the cross. It’s an incredible reminder of the kind of life lived by a servant leader — one who loved his people that he was willing to die for their very lives.
To be a servant leader we need to be filled with the love of Christ. This is the language that we hear from beginning to end with Paul. The love of Christ had to define who he was as a person and it also influenced who he was as a leader.
Being a loving servant leader isn’t always easy. There are times that you can hear the pain and struggle in Paul’s voice. How do you discipline those whom you love? At the same time, how do you not discipline those whom you love — for you want to see their lives changed! Paul knew that not everyone would like him for his tactics and yet, his love for the people compelled him to be consistent.
What do we take from Paul’s leadership style?
Willingness to discipline
Desire to praise
Encouragement to do particular tasks
Words of love for those with whom he served
I believe that those who knew him must have seen how genuine his love was for all of them. Did he always get everything right? No. Did he ever give up? No. He just kept loving these people and encouraged them to keep moving in their faith. The love of Christ filled him from his opening words of encouragement to the final words which expressed his deep connection to the love of Christ. He was a transformed man. The former persecutor of Christians now led his people in love.
Lord, thank you for the example of Paul. Please help me to know your love in such a way that it spills out on those whom I am privileged to lead. May I lead in your love. Amen.