Read Colossians 1:7-8.Yesterday, I accidentally included vs. 7 in the reading. I really must stop and cover 7-8. It may at first read appear to be not much, but there are some very important leadership principles to be learned here.
"You learned it from Epaphras...." NIV
First of all, who is Epaphras? It is assumed that he was a former pagan. His name is short for Epaphroditus which comes from "Aphrodite" the Greek goddess of love. He obviously heard about Jesus, maybe from Paul's missionary journeys, and became a church planter and evangelist himself. I love when the passion of Christ so grabs a heart that they can do nothing else but work for the kingdom. Now that doesn't negate the work the rest of us non-career ministers are doing. We are all ministers of the Gospel. But there is a special anointing on God's pastors. He has placed a heavy burden on their shoulders, and they are faithful to carry it. Epaphras chose to not only leave his former life and follow Christ, but he became a burden-bearer as well.
Paul calls Epaphras a "fellow prisoner."(Phm 23) Whether he means that literally or figuratively, Paul is placing Epaphras on equal grounds as a minister of the Gospel. Look at the cooperative spirit happening with Paul's writing. Epaphras was probably the founder of this church in Colosse. He tells Paul about the heresy problem the church was happening. Paul, as a fellow servant and minister, writes to Epaphras' church to encourage and admonish them. I love the working-together attitude here. We have all seen that sometimes outside voices can say the very same thing you are saying, but your people suddenly hear the newcomer. My husband loves when someone else comes into our church and speaks on tithing. They just affirm everything he has been saying, and some people will receive it better from an outsider. It's the body of Christ being the body. Everyone doing what they do best so we are all doing our best for the Kingdom of God. Jealousies, pettiness, competition, and pride is set aside for the greater good.
And it's because of Epaphras' faithfulness that the church in Colosse is loving "in the Spirit" of the living God. Because he stepped out in faith, we will be worshipping with Colossians in heaven. Isn't that amazing? The steadfast work of a leader draws others to the throne of the Almighty.
- Are you a leader? Are there principles here that you need to work on?
- Find Scripture that supports the body working together for the common good of the Gospel. (i.e. Ephesians 4:16)
- Is there someone you need to help become a better leader? Paul not only was there for his fellow servants like Epaphras, but he also reproduced himself through mentoring. Who will be your replacement when you are gone?