2 Then after fourteen years, I went up again to Jerusalem, this time with Barnabas. I took Titus along also. 2 I went in response to a revelation and, meeting privately with those esteemed as leaders, I presented to them the gospel that I preach among the Gentiles. I wanted to be sure I was not running and had not been running my race in vain. 3 Yet not even Titus, who was with me, was compelled to be circumcised, even though he was a Greek. 4 This matter arose because some false believers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves. 5 We did not give in to them for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you. 6 As for those who were held in high esteem—whatever they were makes no difference to me; God does not show favoritism—they added nothing to my message. 7 On the contrary, they recognized that I had been entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been to the circumcised. 8 For God, who was at work in Peter as an apostle to the circumcised, was also at work in me as an apostle to the Gentiles. 9 James, Cephas and John, those esteemed as pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace given to me. They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the circumcised. 10 All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I had been eager to do all along.
This passage reminds me of the importance of recognised leadership in my life, and in the life of the church. And I am helped greatly by Paul’s view of things.
Paul clearly is not awestruck into seeing these leaders as some kind of superspecies, but he obeyed God’s revelation to him that told him to seek them out in order to confirm that all he was doing for the Gospel was not in vain. And those recognised as leaders in the church helped confirm and affirm what Paul was doing, such that he left with new vigour, confidence, and backing from the larger church in his missionary endeavours.
Sometimes, I find myself confused about what I’m doing. Sometimes, I find myself unsure if what I’m doing is “in vain.” God clearly directed Paul, the apostle, in one of his such moments, to recognised leaders in the church, who helped him along his way. I must take note to do the same. I don’t have to figure it all out on my own. Nor does everything have to come via direct revelation from God. Recognised leadership plays an important role in the guidance and affirmation of my efforts and calling.
God, help me not to isolate myself from great wisdom, encouragement, and support in the recognised leadership around me, especially if I am concerned that what I’m doing or where I’m going is “in vain.”
Written by Ps. Rob Waugh