Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Apostle Paul's Three-Step Leadership

You should have just completed Ephesians, Jude and Philemon.

Apostle Paul wrote to the churches in Colossae, Ephesus and Philippi, and in between a personal letter to Philemon. His two years of house arrest led to these wonderful letters that have encouraged the church since.

Let me comment about the way Apostle Paul wrote to Philemon to appeal for Onesimus. Let me quote from the NIV Study Bible:

To win Philemon's willing acceptance of Onesimus, Paul writes very tactfully and in a lighthearted tone, which he creates with a wordplay*. The appeal (vv. 4-21) is organized in a way prescribed by ancient Greek and Roman teachers: to build rapport (vv. 4-10), to persuade the mind (vv. 11-19) and to move the emotions (vv. 20-21). The name Onesimus is not mentioned until the rapport has been built (v. 10), and the appeal itself is stated only near the end of the section to persuade the mind (v. 17).

* verse 11: Formerly he was useless to you, but now he has become useful both to you and to me.
Useless ... useful. A play on the meaning of Onesimus's name which means 'useful'.

Wow, I wrote in my journal that Apostle Paul is skilled in human relationship. Just as in all of his letters, he said something good before he said something to rebuke or correct. May we learn how to do that.

I call that Apostle Paul's "Three-step leadership":

1. Build Rapport (Relationship is very important as a starting point)
2. Persuade the Mind (Then reason with the person)
3. Move the Emotion (The goal is help the person to be self-motivated)

This reminds me of an adage I use frequently in my pastoral ministry and interactions with people:

You cannot exhort an unencouraged person.

Meaning, until the person is encouraged by your words and intention, it would be hard to correct him. Let's be an encourager first and foremost!

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