The Power of Mission — Is Ours Missing?
The Power of Mission – Is Ours Missing?
Week of December 15, 2019 by Tom Deighan
We cannot possibly fathom what Paul the Apostle endured to fulfill his mission.
Paul had stones thrown at him until they thought they killed him. (Acts 14) Based on historical accounts, we can assume that most of those stones were directed toward his head and face. He also reported being beaten savagely multiple times: “From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one.” (II Cor. 11:24) This amounts to at least one-hundred and ninety-five lashes of the whip during five separate beatings, not limited to just his back, according to historical accounts. The chest was sometimes beaten and the whip often strayed all over the body. One-hundred and ninety-five deep cuts into his flesh. He must have been horribly scarred.
Three times, Paul was beaten with Rods. (11:25) In the Roman world, this could mean anything from elm poles to metal. Those punished routinely died, for unlike the whip, nothing limited the number of blows. In addition to being scarred, he likely suffered unseen injuries from the rods and stones. We also know that Paul faced prison, at least 3 instances being recorded in scripture, but his own account in II Corinthians 11 seems to indicate that this was commonplace, and we can only speculate how many beatings he received while incarcerated. In addition to the physical abuse, he suffered betrayals from the Jewish leaders, from Gentiles, and even from so-called Christians. (11:26) On top of this, he faced thieves, the elements, hunger, thirst, and sleep deprivation.
Few people have endured more than Paul did, including Jesus Himself, but Paul knew what to expect when he accepted Christ’s mission. Upon Paul’s conversion, Christ told Ananias, “I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake,” (Acts 9:16). Paul, therefore, had the power to not only endure all of this, but he also had the strength surrender to his mission with detailed foreknowledge of what he would suffer. Paul’s example convinces me that there is a Power of Mission that I cannot imagine.
As a Christian who happens to be a school leader, I cannot help but wonder about my Power of Mission. Have I lost it, or have I never tapped into it at all? Our profession seems be missing its Power of Mission, as well. What a pity, because as school leaders and as Christians, we are doubly blessed. Our professional and spiritual missions blend perfectly together in ways that bankers, carpenters, or salespeople cannot experience. I wonder if we have lost our Power of Mission as a profession, or if we have yet to discover it.
While education does seem to be under harsh fire recently, we have always faced challenges. Things like politics and budgets are not under our control. The only things under our control as school leaders is our attitude, our choices, and our actions. As our profession continues to face insurmountable challenges, I worry that we educators continue to allow circumstances to shape our attitudes. What do we show the world, hearts focused on serving children’s needs or a sense of entitlement?
Paul’s Power of Mission, however, encourages me. His focus on mission enabled him to change the world – instead of circumstances, health, or people changing him. No matter what he faced, his mission determined his character and his focus. As school leaders who also happen to be Christians, I hope we can also shape the world around us instead of it shaping us. Paul showed us that the Power of Mission can be greater than anything we face. As Christians who happen to be educators, our schools, children, and nation need us to harness that power more than ever. May we reflect over Christmas break on Him, His mission for us, and our role as educators in blessing our communities and this great nation.
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