Sometimes you have to remind people of your credentials. Of course that’s risky, but every church leader has to deal those they lead who insist that they know best / have more experience / should be the leaders, and so on. They need to be reminded, gently and respectfully, that although you’re a long way from who you want to be, you are God’s servant, appointed by His Spirit. Paul knows that his strategy could come to nothing, but he speaks of his spiritual experience (“I know a man in Christ” is a reference to himself, vv.2-4). Have those the Corinthians think so highly of ever seen the glories of heaven? But this man has. Maybe he’s worth listening to. This “boaster” is speaking the truth (v.6).
He’s not boasting, though, because he’s broken (vv.7-9). The thorn could be illness, depression, sexual temptation (or even failure), loneliness, or whatever. We don’t know. It’s there, though, and it hurts so much that Paul has prayed for it to be removed three times (v.8). No chance. But every chance of grace. In fact, the awareness of God’s sustaining grace in severe trail has brought Paul to a place of delight in his own weakness, because there, through grace alone, strength is found.
Credentials, then of spiritual experience, suffering and grace, and then the power to perform miracles (v.12). The calling of an Apostle is a complicated one. And then there are the Corinthians. Paul loves them and will gladly sacrifice for them (v.15), but knows that time spent with them will probably be very stressful (vv.20-21). So don’t think that leadership is plan sailing, Don’t be so confident that your leaders are either supermen, or super-disappointments. Pray for them, serve them and serve with them, respect them – and you might discover that the work to which the whole Body of Christ is one of great delight, as well as of lasting fruitfulness.
A Prayer to Pray
Loving Father, thankyou for grace abounding, even when people are difficult and life is painful. Give me the grace of faith and humility. Lord, I can’t change anyone, only You can. Empower me to be a persevering servant of all, and work Your grace, for Your glory. Amen.