I was reading Mark Batterson’s blog the other day. He said that great leaders must have an eye for excellence with a combination of big vision and attention to detail. Someone asked him how to balance the need to get everything "just right" and the leader's imperative to delegate, even when he/she can do the job better.
Mark said that, “you don't just delegate "jobs." You delegate an approach to ministry, a philosophy of ministry. I think you inculcate a value--excellence honors God. They may not do it as good as you, but they need to be striving for excellence.”
I think this is what the Apostle Paul did when he wrote First Corinthians.
Hints scattered throughout the letter help us understand how the letter came to be written. First, reports of problems were brought from Corinth to Paul in Ephesus. These told of factions, adultery, wives casting off their hair covering when prophesying, selfish actions at the Lord’s Supper and doubts about the future resurrection of the dead.
At about the same time a letter had also been sent from Corinth apparently seeking Paul’s clarification on several questions. For the most part, however, these questions were written in argumentative tones. Surely it is right to abstain from all sexual relations (7:1) and even marriage (7:25)? Surely it is acceptable to dine in an idol house (8:1)? Surely some spiritual gifts are better than others (12:1)? How long must we put money aside for this collection in Jerusalem (16:1)? When will Apollos visit us again (16:12)?
Paul could have dealt with the reports and then answered the questions. He might have done this in a few pages. Instead he analyzed the reports and questions and found five broad topics. He presented them as a series of pastoral sermons for the upbuilding of the church in Corinth and elsewhere.
True wisdom and fasle: Chs. 1 – 4
Holiness in sexuality: Chs. 5 – 7
Idolatry and temple worship: Chs. 8 – 10
The gathered church: Chs. 11 – 14
The abolition of death: Chs. 15
In chapter sixteen Paul outlines his future plans and finishes with words of strong encouragement.
Paul takes the reader through each topic with meticulous care. To Paul, It was important the Corinthian church know his teachings, yet in such a way that they begin to think in a Christ-like way.
It’s amazing to discover leadership principles in a letter written two thousand years ago and a blog written last week!