The Journey of a Leader
Acts 27:1-28:16 February 4, 2001
Scripture Reading: # 718 Hymnal, A Contemporary Affirmation of Faith
ILLUSTRATION: The Parable of the Turtle Picnic
The journey of life takes many twists and turns.
It is never a straight line, but there is a beginning and a destination.
If we could course the distance between those two points as the crow flies we could cover a lot of ground a lot easier and faster.
But when we get there our story would be pretty dull.
And so we must content ourselves with the richness of all the points in between.
And we must see it all as God's grace in our lives to build us up in the experience of character.
For the Christian, at least, it works this way, because in God's economy nothing is lost.
You may have gone through some tough times.
You may be in them now, or they may yet lie ahead.
But you can be assured that in Christ you are a better person for it – or you will be.
You see, my fellow child of God, created in his image, he wants our lives to count for something.
You and I have a purpose, and it is not just to take up space, or to be just a quark on the eternal timetable.
He wants us to have effect.
He created us with an eternal perspective and so we must fulfill it.
Not to do so is to remain forever unfulfilled and dissatisfied.
This journey of fulfillment is reserved only for the Christian and it begins when we yield ourselves to his Lordship and unreservedly accept and proclaim his authority over our lives.
It ends in this life when the flesh of our body yields up the spirit and returns to the dust from which God made it.
But indeed, it shall never end – our earthy significance – because we shall carry it into eternity.
We shall rule this earth with him upon his return and so we shall be with the Lord forever – ultimately in the new heaven and the new earth, the heavenly Jerusalem - when the old order of things passes away.
This journey of hope begins with our present significance in Christ.
So how can I get you to truly understand and envision this when your life is weighed down with feelings of uncertainty and defeat,
- or you are constantly wracked with pain,
- or it seems your children have forsaken all you tried to teach them,
- or your marriage has fallen to levels of mediocrity and you are tempted beyond belief,
- or your moral life is in a shambles and you are tired of trying to keep it secret,
- or you seem never to have had the influence for Christ you desired with the ones you love most,
- or your dreams have been shattered and you wonder just where God is anymore,
- or you thought you knew what God was all about but now you are not sure because he has not met your expectations?
We turn to the example of God's holy Word to hear the stories of those who have gone before us, since all of God's Word, the Bible, is a record of his effect and influence in the lives of his people.
God is involved whether you sometimes believe it or not.
And he is involved even in and through the adversities of your life.
But we must always remember that it is for good (Rom 8:28) since God himself is good.
It is just that we don't always understand him – but that too is for our good.
If we always understood him then we would begin to claim his position as God.
We must bide our time as he works out his salvation in us to overcome the fallenness of the flesh.
We turn now to the book of Acts as we continue with the life of Paul in chapter 27 on page 1741 of the pew Bible.
This will be the next to the last message before we end this series on the beginnings of the early church.
The last three messages on the life of Paul have been about how to have the courage to continue on in spite of rejection, about the benefits of personal holiness, and about our need for justification before God and man.
We discovered that all these come directly from God through faith in Christ in the example of Paul.
Now we shall see that as we discover courage, embrace holiness, and appropriate justification, we are in place to have effect or to make a difference.
In this chapter, Paul begins his journey to Rome as God has ordained.
He has been taken into protective custody by the Romans to save him from the Jews in Jerusalem.
He has appeared before Gov. Felix and left in prison for two years.
He has appeared before the new Gov. Festus and King Agrippa and is now being sent to Rome as a prisoner since he has appealed to Caesar.
Paul embarks on an extended and tortuous voyage of unparalleled drama.
How can we rise to the purpose of Christ for our lives when our lives are in the midst of difficult situations?
We have here an extended narrative written by Paul's traveling companion, Luke.
From the way it is written, it is obviously an eye witness account of one who was there.
But why does he devote so much narrative to it in the book of Acts (59 vs.)?
1) He was involved.
2) It demonstrates God's sovereignty in the midst of misfortune.
God works out his purposes despite human sinfulness and despite the unpredictability of nature and despite human errors in judgment.
3) It reveals Paul as an example of true Christian leadership in the midst of difficult circumstances.
This was a secular setting where, because of Paul's strength of character in Christ, he rose to the occasion and gradually became more and more influential as a leader, even though he was still a prisoner.
Actually, these secular situations are the kind that Christians find themselves in most often.
This was Paul's "Journey of a Lifetime" for which God had fitted him.
And his life had effect.
We can learn from Paul how to be a leader in any secular situation such as this one was.
If you ever wanted to be a leader, this is what you need to hear.
But I might also add that if you are a Christian, you are a leader because you name the name of Christ in a world that will look to you whether you like it or not.
Even if you think you are not a leader and don't want to be one, think again, because you will be a leader in the world to come.
You will lead Christ's kingdom with him.
And he wants to prepare you.
So how can we rise to the purpose of Christ for our lives when our lives are in the midst of difficult situations like Paul's was?
We must do what Paul did that showed him an effective leader.
1) Paul was an agent of hope. (27:22, 25)
2) Paul was an agent of human/divine wisdom. (27:10, 30-31, 33-34)
3) Paul took opportunity to give clear and appropriate testimony about God. (27:23, 27:35)
4) Paul took opportunity to live a servant's lifestyle. (28:2-3, 8)
5) Paul received encouragement from fellow Christians. (27:3, 28:14-15)
The only true leader is a Christian leader because he points the way to God as the One whom we must ultimately follow. A Christian leader always trusts God to be the driving force of his destination course.
How are you trusting God with your life?
Is it in the manner of being an agent of hope and wisdom and testimony and servanthood to others as they encourage you to continue?
You may be sure that it will all come out in the wash.
Paul's presence on that ship is like ours in the world.
We are all in the same boat and we cannot escape its destination.
We are to have the "leadership effect" of directing people toward salvation even if the ship runs aground and breaks up.
We may be "driven along" in life on an unknown course, but if we have faith in Christ, God will deliver us to his destination in safe harbor.
He knows the course we are on.
If we are following God's will, we too will have a positive benefit on all around us. None will be lost.
Our obedience will save our lives and theirs. (Jonah)
Who is the wind in your sails? Is it God?
He may sometimes blow strong and sometimes weak, but he will always take you to the destination of his perfect will.
In the book, The Ascent of a Leader, by Thrall, McNicol, and McElrath, we find a model for Christian leadership:
Discover my destiny By being of proven value to others
Pay the price By living a life of servanthood
Align with truth By giving testimony about God's involvement
Choose vulnerability By being willing to express godly wisdom
Trust God and others with me By being an agent of hope in God
(All in an environment of grace that promotes relationships of grace.)
Whether you like it or not, the fact that you are a Christian makes you a leader. Why not make the best of it and glorify God by making the best of the journey?