God, help me to speak truth boldly, to provide hope in the midst of threatening storms, and to lead for the benefit of others.
Why would Luke, the author of the book of Acts, devote such a long section of his book to describe a voyage and shipwreck? Surely he could have spared us all the details! But skilled as a writer, and inspired by the Holy Spirit, Luke presented important facts about Paul, the courageous leader, in a time of great crisis.
Paul was a prisoner aboard a ship bound for Rome. The ship had already encountered adverse winds, and November storms were looming. Speaking from experience—he had already been through three other shipwrecks—Paul warned the crew of impending danger. But as men in charge often do, they ignored him.
Their attitude was a costly mistake and before long the wind became a typhoon. The crew did all they could to keep the ship afloat; they even threw their cargo overboard to lighten the load. Despite their best efforts, it seemed all would be lost – including their lives.
When no one else knew what to do, Paul the prisoner became Paul the captain. He stepped forward, first with a word from God: “…you will be safe. Only the ship will be lost” (v 22). God had promised deliverance, but Paul also provided practical leadership. In all the confusion, he could have escaped, avoided the Roman court, and his story would have ended very differently. But instead, he readied his shipmates for the demands that would come at daybreak. He led them to end their fast and eat. Before long, everybody felt better and more resolved to face the storm.
Just as God had said, the ship was a total wreck, but all on board made it safely to shore. The soldiers successfully delivered their prisoners. Later, Paul was tried and executed, never to taste sweet freedom again. The storm and shipwreck showcased Paul’s character. Even the worst storm could not hide God’s purpose revealed through Paul’s practical leadership. This prisoner, one without position or status, was the most valuable leader on the ship. He knew how to hear from God and to act on his faith. Paul was in touch with the Almighty, and through his faith and obedience to God, he provided strong leadership even in the face of losing his life.
How do you react when those with authority overrule you? Are you a leader that steps up when the heat is on? Would others say your leadership mostly benefits you or those around you?
Use the principles from Paul’s “shipwreck leadership” account to grow in your leadership over the next year. Plan the steps you will take this week to begin that process.
Father, grant me the resolve to speak truth even when those in charge aren’t listening, and the courage to lead, even in adversity, for the welfare of others. Remind me that in so doing, I am being faithful to my calling as a follower of Jesus.