Reading Paul’s Letters

02 May

Have you ever read the letters that Paul wrote to the early churches?

Most of them were a bunch of screwed up people! In fact, if you were to randomly pick a point in one of his letters, you will most likely find Paul dealing with a lack of many things. He dealt with wrong theology, fractured relationships, pride and envy, a general lack of love, legalism, and so much more.

So, I’ve got a question.

Why did Paul feel comfortable leaving them when he did, and in many cases leaving at a point in time when they still had so much to learn?

You would think that Paul felt it was necessary to stay until they had learned everything!

Might I suggest that this is the exact reason why so many leaders fail? We try to hold on, teach longer, train longer, as if WE are the reason for someone’s success.

Here’s why I think Paul decided to leave…some have verses, while others do not. If you disagree (or agree), let me know.

1. There are some things people can only learn “on their own”. As long as the original leader is in the picture, most people will tend to defer to their leadership, instead of jumping out and learning to swim in the deep end. I believe Paul understood this.

2. There were still too many places to reach. Paul couldn’t afford to stay too long in one place, therefore limiting the impact of the Gospel.

3. Paul understood that the HOLY SPIRIT is the true teacher, not him. As a result, he could entrust people into God’s hands, because God cared for them long before Paul ever did.
1 John 2:27 “But you have received the Holy Spirit, and he lives within you, so you don’t need anyone to teach you what is true. For the Spirit teaches you everything you need to know, and what he teaches is true—it is not a lie. So just as he has taught you, remain in fellowship with Christ.”

4. If God entrusted broken humanity with so many responsibilities (having babies, growing food, running businesses, caring for the earth, etc), then surely He can entrust us with His church. Many people believe that people need to be controlled because they are “dumb” and can’t do things on their own. Apparently God doesn’t think so, and neither did Paul. Take a look at a verse that many have memorized.
Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”

Who do you need to release into their full “Christ-potential” today?


Posted by on May 2, 2012 in Leadership, Uncategorized


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8 responses to “Reading Paul’s Letters

  1. philipshelley

    May 2, 2012 at 2:09 pm

    I love this dude! After reading the daily news I sit and wonder how we allow others to make the choices that we can and need to make on our own. I love the first point and the last point, so very true. If I don’t allow the people under me to make decisions, then their dependence on me grows to where they can never make a decision on their own. Love this bro!

    • Jeff Tolle

      May 3, 2012 at 4:00 pm

      Thanks Philip!!! We want people to grow into “interdependence”, not dependence, which is dangerous. Good thought!

  2. Marvin

    May 2, 2012 at 2:20 pm

    Good points…sounds like a sermon in the making.

    • Jeff Tolle

      May 3, 2012 at 3:59 pm

      Definitely! But, more importantly, one I’ve been trying to live out more and more.

  3. Tim Mossholder

    May 3, 2012 at 11:35 am

    Excellent thoughts, Jeff! This has more to do with the “art” of leadership, rather than the “science”. This “art” has to do with discerning when people are ready to launch out on their own — and some need more training and time than others. Paul was an excellent discerner! It’s also important to note that even when Paul DID move on, he left with solid relationship intact — so later, people evidently welcomed his letters, receiving his continued mentorship from a distance.

    • Jeff Tolle

      May 3, 2012 at 3:59 pm

      Right on! I totally agree…that connection allowed him to continue to discern what was needed in their lives. Thanks for the additional input.

  4. miguelrodriguez11

    May 6, 2012 at 12:26 am

    We had a discussion about this in LifeGroup last night and I read this today. I believe the Holy Spirit is leading us in a certain direction. In our churches today, we are still going through all of these issues that Paul was writing about, so in a sense we are these screwed up people. I have grown a lot recently by finding Jesus on my own. Forgetting everything I had ever learned and I found him through prayer and reading my bible. I completely 100% understand why Paul did this. He planted the seed. I had no idea how close my relationship with Jesus could be until I began searching for Him on my own. It is a great topic to teach about.

  5. Joshua

    May 8, 2012 at 2:17 pm

    Amen! It ain’t Paulianity, Joshianity, Billy Grahamianity, Pastor so-soianity…we’re talking about CHRISTianity here. Who better to teach us how to be like God, then God himself? Plus, the needs of people at church will always be great; a lot of times greater than any one great leader can manage. There’s only one who can simultanously teach multitudes. We humans have our limits, but God is unlimited…Good post, Pastor Jeff.


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