Paul’s Example of Leadership

Acts 20:17-38 is a great example of how a leader is to approach global leadership with the intent of handing over authority and leadership to an indigenous group of people who are ingrained in the particular culture of the area. In this section of scripture, Paul is preparing to leave the Ephesian church, and he instructs the elders in Ephesus on how to be effective in their leadership based on the example he set for them. This example set by Paul revealed how global leaders, regardless of cultural context, can and should lead: developing and casting a vision that motivates those impacted, being an example of how one should ideally operate in the given cultural context, and provide a culture that fosters learning (Lingenfelter, 2008). It is clear that Paul believed this all is done through an attitude of humility (Acts 20:19) recognizing that his own welfare was always secondary to the completion of his mission to reach as many as he could (Stanley, 1981). This is a model of global leadership in any context, in any culture, regardless if there is a faith-based component or not.

Central to leadership is the ability to influence others and create visions for change (Northouse, 2013). Regardless of context, this is the foundational core that makes up leadership, and what serves as the guidepost from which people can continuously receive direction. Along with vision serving as a sign post, the life a leader lives provides a practical approach to how individuals can live the vision out in a practical way. Every organization is in need of a standard of operation, or a code of conduct, that is either officially, or unofficially, provided for people to follow. Finally, this is all made possible through Paul’s humble approach to leadership (Bruce, 2008), which every leader needs to embrace for effectiveness.


Bruce, F. F. (2008). The book of the Acts (Rev. ed.. [Nachdr.]). Grand Rapids, Mich: Eerdmans.

Horton, S. M. (1981). The book of Acts. Springfield, Mo: Gospel Pub. House.

Lingenfelter, S. G. (2008). Leading cross-culturally: covenant relationships for effective Christian leadership. Grand Rapids, Mich: Baker Academic.

Northouse, P. G. (2013). Leadership: theory and practice (6th ed). Thousand Oaks: SAGE.

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