“Not one of you will lose a single hair from his head.”
~Acts 27:34c (NIV).
It’s not unusual for the Apostle Paul to go against the tide; he’d just urged the men aboard the prison ship he was on to eat; for the last fourteen nights they’d been driven forlornly by storms through the Adriatic Sea without much hope of survival.
It’s also not unusual that Paul’s leadership acumen rises to the surface—even as a prisoner—in this dire situation.
And this bears witness to the home we find in God under such circumstances:
“Here in the maddening maze of things,
When tossed by storm and flood,
To one fixed ground my spirit clings,
I know that God is good.
“And if my heart and flesh are weak,
To bear an untried plan,
The bruiséd reed he will not break,
But strengthen and sustain.”
~John Greenleaf Whittier (1902–1992).
What really gets us through the storms and floods of life is the calm sense of assertive, objective-driven leadership; a trait of breaking logical things down and becoming process- and needs-focused.
Paul shows us what this variety of leadership assurance is like:
1. Be the Agent of Hope
People who refuse the panic of their own and others’ hearts are afforded the cognitive space to plan through the danger, in spite of their tremulous fear; in this, they instil hope in all those witnessing this.
Hope cannot exist in the panicked and fearful person—they project despair. Remaining clear-minded and open-hearted, for the leader, is a mandatory task.
2. Melding Two Forms of Wisdom – God’s and Human
Christians or spiritual persons are often overlooked in crises because we’re considered impractical in our wisdom. But the wisdom of God is not only complementary in emergencies, it’s actually crucial in divining the needs of the minute as a moral sieve is always the gauge for the best action to be taken.
For instance, on that ship Paul’s frequently called to urge the soldiers and sailors on in courage, just when the time required that of him; and this despite his own fear.
The use of ‘human wisdom,’ i.e. that which is associated with the actual requirements of the moment, brings out God’s wisdom to bear, for all true wisdom is of God.
3. Keeping Things Simple
In an emergency like this Paul is not found evangelising. He knows that would complicate affairs and prove problematic to the actual needs of the situation. He foregoes the desire to proselytise. Indeed, Jesus is speaking as much through him and his leadership now as he would be if he was preaching.
This is the example of Jesus; to fit ourselves to the needs of our situations... to remain calm whatever our circumstances.
© 2010 S. J. Wickham.
General Reference: Ajith Fernando, The NIV Application Commentary – Acts (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1998), pp. 617-20. I have used three parts of Fernando’s four-part structure as my headings herein. Whittier’s hymn is also cited from Fernando.