PERPLEXED, BUT NOT IN DESPAIR
“For we do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For it is the God who said, Let light shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. We are hard pressed in every way, but not crushed; perplexed (ἀπορούμενοι), but not in despair (ἀλλ᾽ οὐκ ἐξαπορούμενοι); persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed…” (2 Cor 4: 5-9)
Is this a weak “leadership style”? I mean, one might think it was disconcerting for the newly-baptised Corinthians to hear from Apostle Paul all these admissions of weakness, concerning the human side of apostolic ministry. He even admits to being “perplexed, but not in despair,” – rather than telling his flock that he has it all figured out, all of the time.
But no, of course this is not a disconcerting “leadership style.” It is refreshing and effective, because it is honest. A Church-leader (or other kind of leader) who cannot admit weakness or vulnerability of any kind, and leads by “proclaiming” his/her own “awesomeness” very quickly becomes tiresome and practically irrelevant. Because any sane person who hears such a leader senses that this proclamation is simply untrue.
So in any ministry I’m called to do today, let me not be afraid to be who I am, and that is, an “earthen vessel.” I am often “struck down, but not destroyed”; often stressed out or “hard pressed in every way, but not crushed”; and yes, often “perplexed,” not knowing what to do, “but not in despair.” And all that is OK, because I, like others of us on this cross-carrying journey, have a “treasure” that “does not come from us,” and that is our Lord Jesus Christ, Who lets light shine out of our darkness. If we just get out of the way and not block that light with our own agendas. Glory be to Him.