Embracing the Last Place: The True Nature of Christian Leadership

1 Corinthians 4:9
For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men.

Knowing that the title “apostle” was often given to persons who FIRST planted the Christian faith in regions formerly untouched by the Gospel, it would seem contradictory to say that “God hath set forth us the apostles LAST…” It is not until we review Christ’s teachings that we begin to fully understand what is going on. Consider Matthew 20:16, for example, where Christ said, “So the last shall be first, and the first last…” Also, Matthew 23:11, where He said, “But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.”

You see, what Paul is essentially saying (and what Christ is teaching) is that, for others to be ministered to and thereby helped, someone must be willing to be the first to stand in the back of the line! Again, when Christ said that He came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, He was essentially saying the same thing. He lowered Himself so that others might be lifted!

In like manner, Paul is teaching the church of Corinth that as they GAIN from his sacrifice, he himself continues to diminish by necessity of the call. Isn’t it becoming more and more clear what Jesus meant by “the last shall be first, and the first last”?

While many seek promotion in the Kingdom of God, few seek voluntarily to be demoted for the sake of others. Yet, this is the very essence of Christianity; Christ first, others second, & us last. This would explain why ANY pioneer work in God’s Kingdom is often met with the harshest of resistance and circumstances to those pioneering the work, while simultaneously abundantly fruitful and advantageous for the beneficiary. So, the pioneers’ pain is always the progenitors’ gain.

~ Pastor Gary Caudill
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