As Paul compares himself with the false apostles that had crept into the Corinthian church, I think we see the marks of a true Christian leader, what he does, and doesn’t do.
A true leader shouldn’t have to boast. That Paul did so was not so much a sign of his greatness as a leader, but a concession to the foolishness of the Galatians, who were too easily impressed by the “credentials” of those preaching to them a false gospel. Paul himself, time and again berated himself as a fool for having to stoop to these false teachers’ level just to win credibility with the Corinthians.
But under normal circumstances, this shouldn’t be. A true leader realizes that everything he has comes from Christ, and as a result leads with humility, not pride.
A true leader also doesn’t abuse the sheep, even when he must be stern with them because of their sin. The false teachers on the other hand, enslaved, exploited, took advantage of and insulted the Corinthians. Unfortunately, even today, you hear stories of pastors who abuse their positions. But according to Paul, a true leader in the church gently instructs and corrects those who wrongfully oppose him. (II Timothy 2:25).
More, a true leader cares for the sheep. (28-29) He sees those that are weak in faith and lifts them up. He sympathizes with their weaknesses just as Christ does as our great high priest (Hebrews 4:15). And when others cause his sheep to fall, he becomes indignant just as Christ does. (Mark 9:42)
Finally, a true leader is willing to endure hardship for the sake of the gospel. He doesn’t insist on luxury and comfort for himself. Paul certainly didn’t, suffering persecution, danger, sleeplessness, hunger and thirst for the sake of the gospel. (23-27)
Those are the marks of a true leader.
Are you a leader in your church? As a pastor? As a Sunday school teacher? As a Bible study leader? Do these things describe you?