A Leader Extends Her Influence for the Benefit of Her Follower (part 4 of 4)

June 16, 2011 — 1 Comment

Today’s post is the final of 4 blog posts from the book of Philemon about how a leader extends his or her influence for the benefit of his or her follower.

A Leader Extends His Influence for the Benefit of His Follower

Photo Credit: chimothy27

Similar to Paul, I can utilize my influence among others based on what I have done for the community as a whole (serving the needs of families, similar to Paul serving the church).

I can lean on the work I have done for one individual person (mentoring a young man individually, similar to Paul leading Philemon to Christ). Or, I can mentor a young man one-to-one, teach some guys in my Bible study, lead them in a growing relationship with Christ, or I can help clarify their gifts to be helpful in spreading the Gospel.

As the leader who serves them, I have the opportunity (just like Paul had) to use my influence for good so they may be in a place where they are able to use their spiritual gifts to serve God (just as Onesimus was positioned in a place where he could use his gifts under Paul, instead of being a slave).

Thinking about lending my influence to others takes me back to the four years of Auto Shop class I took while in High School. On the cover page of this paper I have displayed the picture of a ¼ size Craftsman wrench. A wrench can be very useful when you need to loosen or tighten a nut. If a nut needs to be loosened or tightened, the ¼ Craftsman wrench has the ability to loosen that nut so it can be taken off the bolt, free of being attached to the bolt.  And, that same Craftsman wrench has the ability to put the nut on a bolt, and tighten it down to do the good work of holding a piece of machinery so it can work properly. The variable is what size nut there is, and what size wrench there is. The benefit of a wrench is that it is about nine inches along which gives you leverage to loosen nuts that are very tight and to tighten nuts onto bolts so they do not move.

Paul, like a wrench, uses his influence and leverage as the prominent leader of the Roman Christian Church to loosen Onesimus from the tight hold his master, Philemon had on him. And after Paul loosens Onesimus from Philemon, he tightens Onesimus down into doing the good work of spreading the gospel and strengthening churches. This, lands Onesimus into the place he was supposed to be, all because Paul was that wrench who had the leverage and influence (leverage) loosen Onesimus from his position as a slave, and tighten him down to do the good work of spreading the gospel.

If you study ancient literature, the name Onesimus appeared again in a letter about 55 years later referencing Onesimus to be the highly-regarded bishop in the province of Asia.[1] We do not know if it was the same Onesimus mentioned in the book of Philemon, but it likely was. This shows that Paul truly did extend his influence for the benefit of his follower. As a result, his follower went on to do great things for the kingdom of God and spread the good news throughout an entire province. If this is what happened as a result of Paul extending his influence on behalf of Onesimus, think about the possibilities you and I both have to extend our influence on behalf of the people who follow us so that they may be useful in using their spiritual gifts

Question: How do you extend your influence for the benefit of the people that follow you?


[1] NLT Study Bible, ed. Roger Mohrlang (Carol Stream, Il: Tyndale House Publishers, 1998), 2076-2077

Christopher L. Scott

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Christopher Scott is Small Groups Pastor at Rocky Hilly Community Church in Exeter, CA. He has more than ten years of experience leading volunteers, running nonprofit programs, and teaching the Bible in small group settings. He holds a bachelor's degree from Fresno Pacific University and master's degree from Dallas Theological Seminary.

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