For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough. Indeed, I consider that I am not in the least inferior to these super-apostles. (2 Corinthians 11:4-5 ESV)
By Stephen W. Hiemstra
What does it mean to be an authentic Christian leader?
The Apostle Paul’s ministry came into question in Corinth for at least two reasons: 1. Paul focused on teaching rather than eloquent speaking (v 6) and 2. Paul was a volunteer evangelist (v 7). Today, in some denominations Paul would be considered a lay pastor while others might call him a church planter.
Senior pastor of mega church—I don’t think so! Paul was not a polished speaker and traveled with a scribe, not a worship team. His manner of pastoral care would probably result in disciplinary action or dismissal in many mainline denominations. The sarcastic tone displayed in this chapter might easily have been cited as a major reason—ever rob another church to support your volunteer work? (v 8).
Paul shames his adversaries in Corinth with his boasting. A polished speaker today, as then, might be introduced citing academic credentials, the television programs hosted, important posts held, even titles earned, family background, and friends vacationed with—when the name dropping begins. And, of course, who could miss the Armani suit?
What does Paul brag about? Family heritage, number of arrests, beatings, whippings, stonings, shipwrecking, perils suffered, sleepless nights, hunger, thirst, exposure to the elements, and anxieties for the church (vv 22-28). Echoed in the words of Paul are Jesus’ own words: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.” (Mark 8:34-35 ESV)
So what was Paul’s motivation for “putting himself out there” for the Corinthian church?
Paul writes: For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ (v 2). In other words, Paul thinks of himself as the father of the bride who, oh by the way, introduced his daughter to her future husband.
For Paul, authenticity as a Christian leader means modeling Christ to the church through lifestyle ministry and teaching.