The Apostle Paul - A quick thought on strong yet loving leadership

I've always sided with Barnabas in the "Barnabas vs. Paul" episode that takes place just before the 2nd missionary journey. Most will say "both were right." Many will say "Paul was right." I've taken the view over the years that Barnabas was right....or at least "more right." I will admit that because my favorite NT character is Barnabas there have been times I've been tempted to think of the Aposlte Paul as someone who ministerd without a visible love for his brothers. However this morning as I looked over Radio Bible Class Daily Bread, I was jolted a bit by the statement we read in Rom 9:3. about loving. Paul says he would be willing to be "cursed and cut off" for the sake of these with whom he loves and ministers. Talk about a great leader. This morning I'm asking myself, "would Barnabas say that?" or even better, "would I say that?"

No question, Paul is perhaps the strongest leader we read of in the NT text, perhaps the strongest God-loving leader in the whole of Scripture. In fairness he matches that leadersip with a love that in a sense gives him the moral and ethical right to be as firm as he often is. I think this is a good thought for leaders in the body of Christ today. Let's make sure that we are neither unloving leaders nor loving non-leaders.

Straight Ahead!


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Susan R's picture


I think Paul learned a lesson from Barnabas. Barnabas showed by patience and graciousness that we shouldn't 'give up' so soon on those who aren't 'performing' up to our expectations. Learning from others involves humility, and Paul was definitely a tremendous example of a 'servant-leader'.

Pastor Rob V's picture

What if Mark had gone the way of Demas? Then we would all say how wise Paul was to not allow Mark to rejoin ministry. 2 Timothy 4:11 Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry.
Obviously by this passage Paul came to appreciate Mark again. That's not the issue. The issue would be, do you let someone back into ministry who has failed in some way? We have no idea if Mark had gone through a process of repentence or not. We only know that Barnabas wanted to give him another chance and it turned out well. If Mark had left ministry again then we would charge Barnabas with having a $100 dollar heart and a c10 head.

Don't be a great pastor, just be a pastor and let history judge for itself.

Susan R's picture


Personally, I don't think it's ever wrong to be gracious. I'd rather be the one to give someone a second chance and have it bite me than to NOT give someone a chance and leave them feeling defeated, discouraged and 'on the shelf' because I had appointed myself jury and judge.

Just as folks did with Peter, I am sure that others followed Paul's example and figured Mark was no good, immature, unstable, whatever- and they'd've been the first in line to say "I told you so" to Barnabas if Mark had fallen on his face. I'm severely allergic to those kinds of people.

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Yes, Susan, but what second chance we give is important. I would consider perhaps Paul was inclined to let John Mark have a second chance on something in his home church, just not immediately jump into something as strenuous as another missionary trip. Perhaps the issue was needing to prove some growth and stability first. We just don't have all the details.

Furthermore, I am not convinced we can be certain Paul wasn't gracious in his refusal to take John Mark. I think when Scripture fails to take a side in the issue, we might be jumping over the fence separating the highway of fact from the playground of speculation (as my theology professor used to say).

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?