I know the title of this sounds funny (especially since I've been flying to Peru and back this last week) but I'd like to share some thoughts from the life of the Apostle Paul.
Paul was amazing leader. As a leader, he is one of my heroes. This story concerns the time when he was shipwrecked. These principals have encouraged me during a time of disaster and I pray these key insights will help you "sail again" if and when you experience a shipwreck.
At one time or another, we all experience a shipwreck in life.
Sometimes more than one.
Now when they had escaped, they then found out that the island was called Malta. 2 And the natives showed us unusual kindness; for they kindled a fire and made us all welcome, because of the rain that was falling and because of the cold.But when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and laid them on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat, and fastened on his hand.
1. Build a Fire
" Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and laid them on the fire..."
We see the first thing Paul does is contribute to the needs of others. The natives show them kindness, and Paul jumps in to help. He goes and gathers a bundle of sticks. Experiencing a shipwreck isn’t the end. Get up and start doing something to bless someone.
2. Watch Out for Snakes
"a viper came out because of the heat..."
The devil is an opportunist and attacks those doing the most for good. As I read this I started really focusing on that word "bundle." In other words, Paul takes both arms and finds a bundle of sticks and picks them up altogether. This is quite a bit different from the way most people gather sticks. They pick them up one by one.
A lot of leaders minister that same way, just a little at a time when it's convenient. We need to be people who contribute to the needs of others with arms opened wide gathering as much as we can for those who need to be warmed.
Acts 28: 5-6
But he shook off the creature into the fire and suffered no harm. However, they were expecting that he would swell up or suddenly fall down dead. But after they had looked for a long time and saw no harm come to him, they changed their minds and said that he was a god.
3. Shake Off the Snake
"But he shook off the creature" Good leaders don’t focus on their own pain. Keep building the fire. This is so hard to do, I know. I have failed in this area. It proves I'm not a perfect leader! But I'll be ready for the next time.
4. Don't Swell Up
"they expected that he would swell up..." Don’t allow the serpent’s poison to enter your heart. We must guard our heart in times of hardship and "wreckage" and not allow the root of bitterness to set in.
5. Don’t Follow Public Opinion
"they changes their minds..." They always do. Good leaders know public opinion is fickle. Even the best of crowds cheering for you, can and will turn their backs on you. Pay no attention to the critics or cheerleaders. Good leaders make decisions because what God is directing and not man.
Acts 28:7-8 There was an estate nearby that belonged to Publius, the chief official of the island. He welcomed us to his home and for three days entertained us hospitably. 8His father was sick in bed, suffering from fever and dysentery. Paul went in to see him and, after prayer, placed his hands on him and healed him.
6. Keep the Main Thing the Main Thing
"he laid his hands on him and healed him” Good leaders always look for opportunities. Remember the purpose of the shipwreck to begin with is to get you to stop doing what you were doing. Paul turned his shipwreck into a healing revival. You grow spiritually to the extent you are willing to give yourself away.
7. Start Sailing Again
"after three months we sailed” Acts 28:11 Take the time needed to recover; and while you do, build a fire for others. Get started and God will send new people to help you. “When the brethren heard about us, they came to meet us” Acts 28:15 When Paul saw them he thanked God and was encouraged!
I want to share with you something. Today marks, to the date, when a shipwreck in my life started. The last 8 months of it I have been unemployed. At the very beginning of this tragedy I know I heard God say, "give what you have away." Believe me, I argued with God about that for awhile. Today I landed back from a 4 day conference in Peru teaching pastors. I didn't receive anything for it. And that's okay. I have reached a point in my life where I totally trust in God to provide. As He's provided, I've been building a fire for others. My ministry is not going to be determined by what the shipwreck was, it's going to be determined by the fires that are built for others; that's something we should all be doing reguardless of experienceing a shipwreck or not.
I pray you do the same.
God bless and smooth sailing!