TRANSFORMATION OF YOUR MINISTRY. DOWNLOAD THIS POWERPOINT AT HTTP://WWW.JLWILLIAMS.ORG/MEDIA/POWERPOINTS/. BIBLICAL PRINCIPLES FOR LIVING SERIES. 1. MENTORING OF PAUL. “Paul sent to Ephesus for the elders of the church…” (Acts 20:17).
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1. MENTORING OF PAUL “Paul sent to Ephesus for the elders of the church…” (Acts 20:17). As we begin this timely study of the Apostle Paul’s mentoring model of missions, we need to understand the background of the city of Ephesus. Ephesus was one of the leading cities of the Roman Empire.
It was the center of worship for a many-breasted fertility goddess known as Artemis – who was similar to Aphrodite who was worshiped at Corinth. This local pagan fertility cult produced much of the travel and trade in Ephesus. Therefore, the city became a place of pilgrimage for tourist-worshipers – all eager to visit the Temple of Artemis, and indulge in sexual exploits. Each pilgrim was eager to take home some image or idol of this goddess – hence the prosperous trade guild of silversmiths centered in Ephesus who made their living by making and selling their cult worship souvenirs. It was this “cult commerce” that Paul soon came in conflict with (Acts 19). Since Ephesus was a strategic city geographically, culturally, economically and spiritually – Paul was drawn there. He first briefly visited Ephesus at the end of his Second Missionary Journey, on his way back to Antioch (Acts 18:19-22).
On his Third Missionary Journey, Paul again went to Ephesus – but this time he stayed there for three years (Acts 20:31). This final meeting with the Ephesian elders recorded in Acts 20 took place at the end of his Third Missionary Journey - on his way to Jerusalem.
Rather than going back to the inland city of Ephesus, Paul meets the elders at the coastal town of Miletus – never to see them again after this “farewell discourse.” (See Map).
Even though Paul never visited Ephesus again, he did write to the churches there later (60 A.D.) – probably from prison, or house-arrest in Rome (Acts 28:30). The Letter to Ephesus was one of the greatest Epistles inspired by the Holy Spirit – and penned by Paul!
Here in Acts 20, we see Paul’s emphasis on leadership development:“Paul sent…for the elders…”After he had spent three years identifying and developing these elders, he now totally put them in charge. He had birthed the church and mentored the local church leaders – now he meets with them one last time for their final commissioning into leadership and eldership - apart from his personal presence. In summary then, from all we know Paul stayed longer at Ephesus than any other place – three years. However, after that short period of missionary work, he left in place a thriving local church, with competent national leadership fully in control!
2. MODEL OF PAUL “When they arrived, he said to them: “You know how I lived the whole time I was with you, from the first day I came into the province of Asia.” (Acts 20:18). Paul first reminded them of the message of his life – before he reminded them of the message of his lips. He understood that “actions speak louder than words.”
This fact reminds every Christian leader that people often need to “see a sermon” – before they “hear a sermon!” Like Paul, we must model ministry with both our lives and lips. PRINCIPLE The first calling of missions is to model ministry.
3. MATURITY OF PAUL “I served the Lord with great humility and tears…” Humility was the mark of Paul’s life and ministry – just as it was the mark of Christ’s life and ministry (Phil. 2:5-8). Note these words by Paul to the Church at Philippi:
“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death - even death on a cross!” (Phil. 2:5-8). One of the evidences of Paul’s humility was his tears. His tears were evidence of his deep love for the lost, and love for the church of Jesus Christ. PRINCIPLE If you can’t weep for people – you can’t win people! Weeping leads to winning!
Tears are the “rain from the eyes that softens the hearts of the lost!” Therefore, there would be more winning if there was more weeping! REMEMBER: “Humility is the hallmark of spiritual maturity.” Therefore, it is humble ministry – not haughty ministry – that God honors.
4. MISTREATMENT OF PAUL “…although I was severely tested by the plots of the Jews…” (Acts 20:19b). True spiritual ministry always eventually leads to opposition and persecution of some kind – and often from our own people. Paul’s greatest and most consistent opposition and persecution took place from his own race – the Jews.
Faithfully preaching the Gospel, and “Speaking the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15) is usually divisive. And, standing against one’s own racial and religious group, almost always leads to opposition, rejection and persecution of some kind or another. If Paul experienced persecution – not occasionally, but consistently – then we should expect the same thing if we are faithful to our calling. PRINCIPLE Mistreatment and martyrdom often follow ministry.
5. MESSAGE OF PAUL “You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you…” (Acts 20:20a). Preaching the Gospel was the passion of Paul’s life – with both his life and his lips. Therefore, his message was both visible and verbal! In the life of Paul, his mentoring preached…his lips preached…his humility preached…his tears preached…his persecution preached.
When it came to his verbal message – it was a combination of passion and purity. There was a balance and blend of “tears and truth. We see in later verses some of the other essential elements of Paul’s preaching: “I have declared…that they (Jews and Greeks) must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:21). So he preached that all people must repent – which means “to turn” - turn from sin and turn to God through faith in Jesus Christ. PRINCIPLE Tears without truth is emotionalism; truth without tears is dry dead orthodoxy.
“I have gone about preaching the Kingdom…” (Acts 20:25). So Paul was focused on building God’s Kingdom – not his own. And he did not just preach in one place with one group of people. He said “I have gone about preaching…” He was an itinerant minister who moved about rather than one who settled down in one single location for life.
“…testifying to the Gospel of God’s grace” (Acts 20:24). His message was grace centered – therefore it was focused on Christ. “I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole council of God” (Acts 20:27). Here we can especially see thatPaul’s message was balanced Biblically. He did not just teach one Biblical principle to the neglect of others. Nor did he constantly emphasize a few “pet doctrines.” He taught them the “whole council of God” (NASV)…the “whole will of God” (NIV)… “whole purpose of God” (Good News Bible)… “all that God wants for you” (NLT).
We can note in these words of Paul, as well as in other places, the Biblical emphasis upon the “council…purpose…plan…will of God” (Acts 2:23; 4:28; 13:36; Eph. 1:11; Heb. 6:17). In reminding them of his preaching and teaching ministry among them, Paul used a number of rich and descriptive words to describe the nature of his verbal communication of the Gospel to them: “preach/proclaim” (anangello) (Acts 20:20,27) “taught”(didasko) (acts 20;28) “declared/testified”(martyromni) (Acts 20:21, 24, 26).
Good preaching and teaching in Paul’s day - or in our day - will always employ all of those forms of verbal communication.
6. METHOD OF PAUL “…I have taught you publicly and from house to house. I have declared to both Jews and Greeks…” (Acts 20:20b-21). Paul’s preaching and teaching was both public and private. He ministered in public to large groups – and in private to individuals and small groups. Paul ministered in both the marketplace and homeplace…outdoors and indoors…formal settings and informal settings.
The phrase “house to house” that Paul used here is probably a reference to house churches - since there were no church buildings at this time. So possibly each of the elders Paul meets at Miletus was the leader of one of these house churches in Ephesus. But just as there was flexibility and diversity in the places of his ministry; there was the same in the people he ministered to – “Jews and Greeks.” Paul did not just minister to his own racial and religious group – but all social groups. Since Ephesus was primarily “Gentile territory,” the “Gentiles and Greeks” were the primary focus of his ministry in Ephesus.
We therefore need to have flexibility and diversity when it comes to the place and people of our ministry. PRINCIPLE Ministry must have mobility, flexibility, versatility, in order to reach different places and different people.
7. MEEKNESS OF PAUL “…compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem…” (Acts 20:22). The phrase “compelled by the Spirit” is literally “bound by the Spirit.” This word reminds us of the principle that it is only when we are “bound by the Spirit” that we are truly free! If we are not “bound by the Spirit of God,” we will be bound by sin, lust, fear, anger, prejudice, greed – and a whole host of other negative things!
Therefore, Paul’s meekness is demonstrated by his sensitivity and submission to the Spirit of God. Meekness is “strength under control…human power submitted to the power of God.” Therefore, meekness is the fruit of sanctified power! However, meekness must never be confused with weakness. Weakness is a lack of physical or moral strength; while meekness is sanctified strength – physical, emotional, moral strength under the control of the Holy Spirit - rather than under the control of the human spirit.
Moses was meek (Num. 12:3)…Jesus was meek (Matt. 11:29; 21:5; II Cor. 10:1)…Paul was meek. They were men of meekness because they were fully submitted to God. PRINCIPLE Meekness in ministry is a manifestation of sanctified strength bound by the power of the Holy Spirit.
8. MERCY OF PAUL “…I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me” (Acts 20:22-23). The probable reason for Paul’s “going to Jerusalem” was to take the offering for the poor he had been collecting as he traveled and ministered. (Acts 24:17). So Paul was on a “mission of mercy” to the poor saints in Jerusalem.
When God called Paul on the Damascus Road, He told him through the witness of Ananias: “This man is a chosen instrument to carry My name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel. I will show him how much he will suffer for My Name” (Acts 9:15-16). Therefore, ministry, mission, and mercy always leads to some form of mistreatment – whether from family, extended family, relatives, friends, tribal members, government, etc. PRINCIPLE Ministry, mission and mercy always lead to mistreatment – but also to maturity!
So if we are going to be faithful in ministry, some form of mistreatment almost always results to one degree or another. However, we are to continue to be merciful in the face of misunderstanding and mistreatment! The Bible reveals that God is a God of mercy (Deut. 4:31; II Sam. 24:14; Neh. 9:31; Ps. 25:6; Jer. 3:12; Dan. 9:9; Heb. 2:17). Therefore, Christians are called to minister mercy as God enables (Matt. 5:7; 9:13; Luke 1:54; Mic. 6:8; 7:18).
9. MOTIVATION OF PAUL “…I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me – the task of testifying to the Gospel of God’s grace.” (Acts 20:24). To the Apostle Paul, Christ’s life was far more important than his own life. His own life was worth nothing to him – but Christ’s life was worth everything! For the Apostle Paul, life had purpose…direction…a goal:“…finishing the race…completing the task the Lord Jesus had given him…”
For Paul, life and ministry was a race to be completed and won; and a job assignment to be carried out and fulfilled – regardless of the personal cost to himself! His life was not something to be preserved – but to be poured out – in the cause of Christ! As such, Paul’s life was to be a living testimony to the “Gospel of God’s grace.”
It was because of this passion that Paul could say at the end of his earthly ministry: “I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith” (II Tim. 4:6-7). PRINCIPLE Goal and glory go together. We most glorify Christ by reaching the goal for which we were created and redeemed!
10. MANTLE OF PAUL “Now I know that none of you among whom I have gone about preaching the Kingdom will ever see me again” (Acts 20:25). Like a good physical parent, Paul did not build a prolonged and unhealthydependency upon himself. He always discipled and mentored Christian leaders toward the end of being able to lead local churches without him – without his presence or his purse!
Even though he stayed at Ephesus longer than anywhere else – his stay there was only 3 years. By missionary standard today, that is a very brief period of time! And yet, during that time, he prepared them to totally lead the new Church at Ephesus! Unfortunately, many missionaries and church planters today stay for decades in the same location – and never realistically prepare the church to stand on its own two feet spiritually and financially. Paul, however, began his local church planting ministry and leadership training, with the specific goal of quickly “working himself out of a job!” So now he could come to his “farewell sermon” with the Ephesian elders – and completely cut the umbilical cord of dependency upon himself.
Now Paul completely passes his leadership mantle on to them – and leaves them fully in control of the growing young church. Every physical parent and spiritual parent will have to one day say to their physical and spiritual children:“…none of you…will ever see me again.” The question is: “Will both the parent and child be prepared for that final separation?” PRINCIPLE Passing the mantle in ministry motivates maturity.
11. MINISTRY OF PAUL “Therefore, I declare to you today that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God.” (Acts 20:26-27).
These words by Paul are an echo of the words of God to the prophet Ezekiel: “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you will surely die,’ and you do not speak out to dissuade him from his ways, that wicked man will die for his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood. But if you do warn the wicked man to turn from his ways and he does not do so, he will die for his sin, but you will have saved yourself” (Ezek. 33:7-9).
They also remind us of his similar words of condemnation to the Jews who rejected his message: “But when the Jews opposed Paul and became abusive, he shook out his clothes in protest and said to them, ‘Your blood be on your own heads! I am clear of my responsibility. From now on I will go to the Gentiles” (Acts 18:6). Even though Paul’s message was at times stern, his ministry was balanced because his message was balanced.
Unlike some of the other so-called “super-apostles” of his day – or ours – Paul preached the “whole council of God” to the people he ministered to. He did not just preach one favorite doctrine to the neglect of others – and thereby build the church at Ephesus around one aspect of theology. Paul ministered the whole will of God. He could honestly say that he was “innocent of the blood of all men” because he had preached the truth - and lived the truth - among them.
Therefore, if the people were punished spiritually, it would not be Paul’s fault! Their spiritual discipline or death would be because of their rejection of the truth – not because of their ignorance of the truth! PRINCIPLE In ministry we are only innocent before Godand innocent before man when we have fully proclaimed the whole council of God.
12. MANDATE OF PAUL “Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God which He bought with His own blood. I know that after I leave savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number, men will raise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. So be on your guard!"
Not only did Paul live under a mission mandate from the Lord, he put other leaders he trained under that same mandate. Paul’s mandate was a mentoring mandate to train indigenous local leaders as quickly as possible – and then fully empower them as God’s leaders for those newly established local churches. There are several aspects to his mandate to these Ephesian elders we need to note. First, it was…
PERSONAL: “Keep watch over yourselves…” Paul knew that these elders could not watch over others any better than they watched over themselves. Their own level of spirituality would determine the level of spirituality of their people…their growth would determine their people’s growth. When an elder becomes slack and sloppy in his own personal life, he soon does so with the lives of others. Secondly, his mandate was…
PROVIDENTIAL: “…all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers.” Here Paul clearly acknowledged the sovereign providential hand of God in raising up elders in the local church. Note: The word for “elder” or “overseer” is the word episkopous, from the verb episkopeo, meaning “to look for; to care for.” So the very word elder denotes the responsibility of a minister to “look for” and “care for” his people.
Since Jesus is the Head of the Church (Eph. 1:22) – He has full right and authority to raise up the necessary elders to lead His body locally. So because God’s Holy Spirit had providentially raised up local leaders through Paul’s ministry; Paul acknowledged their leadership and acted accordingly by putting them fully in charge. PRINCIPLE “It was Paul’s confidence in Christ’s Headship that moved him to acknowledge their eldership and local leadership.”
Paul built confidence in these elders that it was the Hand of God that had raised them up and put them in positions of leadership. They were leaders and elders by God’s choosing – not by Paul’s selection! Paul never talked or acted like these local leaders were raised up and appointed by him – even though he was God’s instrument for birthing the church, and mentoring their ministries. Paul built their self-confidence as leaders in God’s sovereign election of them as elders. Therefore, his mandate to them was…
PASTORAL: “Be shepherds of the church of God..” Just as Paul had been a shepherd to them – he now commissioned these elders to shepherd God’s flock there in Ephesus. As elders, Paul was calling them to shepherd leadership…servant eldership…serving leadership. Like good shepherds, they were to minister to the sheep and meet their needs.
The identification of the pastor as a shepherd is one of the most consistent themes of the Bible – and God is the ultimate example of the perfection of shepherding: (Gen. 48:15; Num. 27:17; II Sam. 7:7; I Kings 22:17; Psalm 23:1; 28:9; Isa. 40:11; Jer. 31:10; Ezek. 34:1-31; Zech. 11:17; 13:7; Matt. 2:6; 9:36; John 10:1-18; Heb. 13:20; I Pet. 5:2-4; Jude 12; Rev. 7:17). So Paul reminds them that the church did not belong to him – or to them – but to God. It was the “Church of God” – not the “Church of Paul” or the “Church of the Ephesian Elders.”
It was the “Church of God” because He alone had “bought it with His own blood”. Note: The phrase “bought with His own blood” is literally translated: “through the blood of His own.” So this is a clear reference to the blood of Christ. Nowhere in the entire Bible is the blood of God ever spoken of – only the “blood of Christ.” Therefore, the church was “God’s flock” (Luke 12:32; I Pet. 5:2) for which they were called to be the shepherds… servants…stewards.
So no elder or church leader should ever act like the church belongs to him! He should not speak of it as “my church” – but as the “Church of God.” Paul’s mandate to the Ephesian elders was also for them to be…
PROTECTIVE: “…after I leave savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will raise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them.So be on guard!” Paul now reminds these church leaders that one of the greatest responsibilities of a shepherd is to protect the sheep. First of all a shepherd feeds his sheep, but secondly, he fights for his sheep. While Paul was with them personally, he protected the new young church from the “wolves” from without – and the “false brethren” from within.
But he knew that his departure would give fresh opportunity for the enemy of the church to attack. Paul said, “I know that after I leave…” the attack and assault by the enemy will only increase – not decrease. However, the knowledge of pending spiritual warfare did not cause him to hold on to leadership and stay longer in Ephesus. He still departed! He still gave them the mandate to protect the sheep. Just like the parent protects the children; the pastors protect the children of God. Just as his personal presence protected the young church, the elders must now provide the same protection to the church at Ephesus after his departure.
Therefore, Paul wisely reminds them of the two-fold attack that Satan would make on the young church after his departure. First there would be the external assault by the “savage wolves” who would not “spare the flock.” Generally wolves travel in packs – so they could expect multiple attacks from without! Secondly, there would be subversion and division from within. If Satan cannot successfully destroy from without; he will divide from within! So Paul warns them that “…from your own number men will arise and distort the truth…” Paul warned that these false prophets within would not teach the “whole council of God” – but would “distort the truth.” They would preach and teach a “different Gospel” (Gal. 1:6; II Cor. 11:4-5) – rather than the “Gospel of God’s grace” (Acts 20:24).
These false shepherds would be different from Paul - who sought to build dependency upon Christ through His Spirit and Word. Rather than make “disciples of Christ,” they will seek to “…draw away disciples after them.” So Paul gives these elders a mandate to protect the church – from external destruction and internal division. For two thousand years, Satan has not changed his two-fold attack upon the church! PRINCIPLE The two great enemies of the church are external destruction and internal division.
Therefore, all church elders must heed Paul’s exhortation to “BE ON YOUR GUARD!” In telling them this, Paul was not giving some new admonition. He was only reminding them to do as he had done among them for three years. “Remember,” Paul said, “that for three years I never stopped warning each of you…” Lastly, Paul’s mandate was to be…
PASSIONATE: “I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears.” Finally, we can see that Paul’s admonition to the elders was passionate – not passive. Twice in this exhortation, he reminded them of his “tears” (Acts 20:19, 31). First, his ministry time with them was “night and day…” So whether in public settings during the day, or private settings at night from “house to house” (v. 20), Paul taught, exhorted, and warned them – often with tears! We can also see here that Paul spent a lot of “one-on-one” time with these elders – because he refers to “each of you.”
The best leadership mentoring is always done individually – “one-to-one.” A timely question for every church elder today is this: “Who are you mentoring “…night and day with tears”? PRINCIPLE The more personal and passionate the spiritual parenting, the greater the pastoral results.
13. MIND OF PAUL “Now I commit you to God and to the word of His grace which can build you up and give you an inheritance among those who are sanctified”(Acts 20:32). Here we can see again the mature missionary mind of the Apostle Paul. From the very beginning, he always had the mind-set of not creating a long-term dependency upon himself.
Paul wanted the new believers, and young leaders, to be dependent upon the Spirit and the Word – rather than upon himself. Therefore, after teaching them the “whole council of God,” he could confidently release them into the keeping of the Spirit and the Word. Since Paul believed that Jesus alone was the exalted Head of the Church – he built the new convert’s dependency upon Christ - not upon himself. Paul was confident that Christ’s Holy Spirit would faithfully be with them after his own departure – and that He would continue to “build them up” as they would need it as elders.
Paul was therefore confident in the saving grace of Christ – and the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit. It was the exalted Christ who would “give them an inheritance” in heaven for their faithful leadership. Note that the word for “inheritance”(kleronomeo) means “a gift bestowed on the basis of God’s grace.” So Paul obviously expected the Holy Spirit to keep them faithful. Since they had been saved, and were being sanctified - he was confident that they would one day receive their heavenly reward for their faithfulness as elders.
So Paul’s mind was focused upon the faithfulness of God Who would sustain them after he had gone – never to return. He knew that his own departure would not bring about God’s departure! This should also be the missionary mind-set of others who act as apostolic church-planters like the Apostle Paul. PRINCIPLE The mature missionary mind is focused on the Headship of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit to sustain the church.
14. MOTIVE OF PAUL “I have not coveted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing” (Acts 20:33). When it came to ministry, Paul’s motives were transparent. He never used the Gospel for gain – unlike the “Prosperity Preachers” of his day who were “prophets for profit!”
He could honestly say that he had not coveted anyone’s“silver, or gold, or clothing.” This was a theme that Paul could boast of before all of the churches he planted – not just before the elders of the church at Ephesus. Note these similar reference to the churches in Thessalonica and Corinth. “You know that we never used flattery, nor did we put on a mask to cover up greed – God is our witness” (I Thess. 2:5).
“Unlike so many, we do not peddle the Word of God for profit” (II Cor. 2:17). “We have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception…” (II Cor. 4:2). “We have not wronged anyone…we have not exploited anyone” (II Cor. 7:2).
“When I was with you and needed something, I was not a burden to you…I have kept myself form being a burden to you in any way, and will continue to do so” (II Cor. 11:9). “Now I am ready to visit you for the third time, and I will not be a burden to you, because what I want is not your possessions but you. After all, children should not have to save up for their parents, but parents for their children. So I will very gladly spend for you everything I have and expend myself as well” (II Cor. 12:14-15).
Paul then had a clear conscience when it came to his motives for ministry. He did not minister for his profit – but for their profit…not for his own financial prosperity - but for their spiritual prosperity. Paul lived and ministered with the sobering reality that he would one day stand before the “…judgment seat of Christ” that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body. Since then we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience” (II Cor. 5:10-11).
Paul knew that at the “judgment seat of Christ,” he would be judged and rewarded on the basis of what he had done for Christ – and why he had done it: “Judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in the darkness and will expose the motive of men’s hearts. At that time each will receive his praise form God” (I Cor. 4:5). So Paul’s motives were clear when it came to money and materialism. That fact was clearly demonstrated by his lips…his life-style…his labor. PRINCIPLE Motives in ministry are most often manifest through the use of money and materialism.
15. MANNER OF PAUL “You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions”(Acts 20:34). The English word “manner” comes from the Latin word manus, meaning “a hand.” It is also the linguistic root of the word “manual” or “to work with your hands.” It also came to mean: “A way or method of doing something; the usual mode or fashion of doing something; customary behavior; a habit.”
SoPaul’s customary way of doing ministry – especially in either pioneer or problematic situations – was to “work with his hands.” He was a tentmaker by trade (Acts 18:3), so he often made a habit of combining ministry with manual labor. Although he did accept financial support for his ministry from time to time – especially from the churches at Macedonia; he seemed to “work with his hands” from time to time throughout his life.
A strong case can be made for the fact that Paul “worked with his hands” at some time on all three of his major missionary journeys First Missionary Journey (Galatians after 1st Journey) Second Missionary Journey (I and II Thessalonians) Third Missionary Journey (I and II Corinthians and Romans) Not only did Paul work to supply his own needs, he also worked to supply the “…needs of his companions.”
Here again we can see the mentoring model of ministry in the life of Paul. Not only was he mentoring the young leaders at the Church at Ephesus - at the same time he had other “companions” with him that he was mentoring into ministry. So obviously the Apostle Paul saw no conflict between ministry and manual labor! PRINCIPLE There should never be a division between ministry and manual labor.
There was a mutualism in ministry that resulted in great multiplication for the Kingdom – and all without dependency! Paul’s ministry demonstrates that the best way to “break the dependency cycle” – is to never start the cycle in the first place! So Paul’s normal manner of ministry avoided the dependency cycle form the very beginning! He would never allow himself to be dependent upon anyone but God – and he wanted his new church to learn the same principle that would result in maturity and multiplication in ministry!
16. MOTTO OF PAUL “In everything I did, I showed you by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words of the Lord Jesus Himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’” (Acts 20:35). As we have already seen, both Paul’s life and lips were a model of ministry. Not only could Paul remind them of what he preached and taught, he could also say “in everything I did…”
So Paul demonstrated a model of ministry and manual labor side-by-side. They literally went together hand-in-hand in his life and ministry. Both the model of his life and the manner of his labor incarnated his concern to “help the weak.” (c.f. I Thess. 5:14). Both his life and lips demonstrated the words of Christ: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” So the model of his life was to “help the weak,” and the motto of his lips were the words of Christ: “It is more blessed to give than receive.”
Unfortunately, there are always those in every time and culture who pervert these words of Christ to say: “It is more blessed to receive than to give!” Unlike many false leaders of his day, Paul’s lips did not say one thing while his life said another! There was consistency between his motto and his model. That’s true integrity in ministry! PRINCIPLE Giving is a sign of maturity and independence, while receiving is a sign of immaturity and dependence.
It is interesting and instructive to note that this phrase that he quoted from Christ is found nowhere in the Four Gospels! So this is an example of oral tradition in the early church passing on the words of Christ! And how these same words of Christ need to be taught and demonstrated in every church…in every country…in every culture!
17. MEASURE OF PAUL Is it any wonder then that this farewell discourse ends with these words of commentary by Doctor Luke: “When he had said this, he knelt down with all of them and prayed. They all wept as they embraced him and kissed him. What grieved them most was the statement that they would never see his face again. Then they accompanied him to the ship” (Acts 20:36-38).
These words remind us that the measure of a man’s ministry is WHO and WHAT he leaves behind! The effectiveness of Paul’s three years of ministry at Ephesus is the fact that he planted one of his greatest and strongest churches there. PRINCIPLE The measure of a man’s ministry is the maturity of the people he leaves behind to continue the work.
They were not weeping on the beach because their financial umbilical cord to Paul was being cut! They were weeping because of their love for Paul personally – not over their loss of his presence or purse! The letter he later wrote to this church is called the “Queen of Epistles.” Even though its companion Epistle to the Church at Colossne is very similar in theme, the letter to Ephesus contains 70 words found in none of Paul’s other letters. In the Ephesian letters, Paul is describing by revelation truths about the nature of the church not found anywhere else in the New Testament.
When we come to the last book of the New Testament, we find an important letter to the Church at Ephesus - not from Paul, but from John. It is both an encouraging witness – and stern warning to the Church at Ephesus, and the church today: “To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands: I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love.
Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God” (Rev. 2:1-7).
CONCLUSIONS In Paul’s “Farewell Discourse” to the Ephesian Elders on the beach of Miletus, we see a great mentoring model of missions. In this study we have seen the following:
The Mentoring of Paul The Model of Paul The Maturity of Paul The Mistreatment of Paul The Message of Paul
The Method of Paul The Meekness of Paul The Mercy of Paul The Motivation of Paul The Mantle of Paul
The Ministry of Paul The Mandate of Paul The Mind of Paul The Motive of Paul The Manner of Paul
The Motto of Paul The Measure of Paul May this also become our mentoring model of ministry for God’s glory!