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Persuasion and Partnership

1 Corinthians 16:12
Now about our brother Apollos: I strongly urged him to go to you with the brothers. He was quite unwilling to go now, but he will go when he has the opportunity. (NIVUK)

Paul, Peter and Apollos had all been to Corinth. All three men had significant ministries, but the immature church was divided about who was best (1 Corinthians 1:11-12), even though they saw themselves as fellow workers (1 Corinthians 3:9). The church had asked for Apollos to go and Paul would have liked him to accompany Timothy and Erastus (Acts 19:22), but Apollos felt he should not leave Ephesus.
Paul respected Apollos; he did not want to overrule another man's conscience (2 Corinthians 1:12) even though he had apostolic authority. Ultimately the Lord Jesus was head of the church and so Paul agreed to accept Apollos' decision. There is no dispute about the need to make the visit, but the two men saw the timing differently and Apollos agreed to go when he was able.
We do not know the circumstances, or the reasons why Apollos felt that he should not leave Ephesus. But Paul was willing to agree with him. At the same time he did not want the church in Corinth to think that he was preventing Apollos out of some personal rivalry, and he was open about the difference of timing. Paul showed that he was indeed a fellow worker and not a master or supreme mission director. He was willing to be responsible for his own actions and allow others to be responsible for theirs - as he had been in the dispute with Barnabas over John Mark (Acts 15:36-40). But that did not prevent Paul recognising Mark's ministry gifts in a different context (2 Timothy 4:11).
The gospel needs strong minded people to work together in teams. But they need to be servant hearted and networked into a loving fellowship. Honesty is the key to this. There is no point in grumbling or engaging in slanderous confrontation. Be clear about what you believe is the right thing for you to do and honour the opinion of others on their own responsibility. If you feel strongly then seek to persuade, but never dictate. Allow your relationship as fellow workers to be transparent so that it will become a model for others. The same principle has many benefits in the secular workplace too.

Lord of all. Thank You that whatever leadership structures exist, we are each accountable to You. Forgive me for failing to be honest in my relationships with those I work with; either allowing them to crush my conscience or crushing theirs. Please help me to listen to You first and then interact with others according to my conscience as directed by Your Holy Spirit. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams