When I was a kid, there were many things I thought I would be. I studied to be an Astronomer; a Writer; a Real-Estate Tycoon . . . but in High School I began to see myself as a Pastor. It began in 8th grade when I was at a church camp and accepted the Lord. It was a sincere act of faith, but no one told me I was supposed to do anything with my faith. I would watch the only Pastor I knew, which the Pastor of our church. He was a nice enough guy, but he didn’t really impress me as more than a Preacher. But out of church I didn’t know whether he had much to offer. I’m not saying he did, I just never saw it. In fact, all of the preachers I had known seemed only to be adept at preaching, and some of them weren’t too good at that. I can remember saying that I would didn’t want to be a pastor anymore, because I did not want to sit around with little old ladies sipping tea.
Think about some of the preachers you have known or seen on television. How many of them would you call if your car broke down on the freeway, or if you needed help putting a new roof on your house? How many of them would you expect to come to your home, roll up their sleeves, take hold of a shovel, and help you dig up your septic system?
Then I heard about one pastor, his name is Pastor Alton Williams. As far as I know he is till the Senior Pastor of World Overcomers Outreach Ministries Church in Memphis, Tennessee. I heard a tape of him preaching and I changed my mind about preachers and preaching. I understand he grew up on a farm. At the age of 30, he went to Bible school and then became a preacher. I listened to the way he taught the Scriptures with simplicity, and yet with real substance. I heard that he helped build several churches with his own hands—and several homes as well. So not only was he a pastor who was a good teacher; and, he was useful in the real world. I have never met the man, but I continue to admire his ministry to this day.
Paul was a great preacher and teacher, as our study has shown us, but he was also a man of great character and courage. Paul was also skilled and useful in earthly things. We know from several texts in the New Testament that Paul did not demand other Christians to take care of him. Instead of living off the labors of others, Paul with with his own hands, and not only provided for his own needs, but also for the needs of others:
I have desired no one’s silver or gold or clothing. You yourselves know that these hands of mine provided for my needs and the needs of those who were with me. By all these things, I have shown you that by working in this way we must help the weak, and remember the words of the Lord Jesus that he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’” —Acts 20:33-35
Paul was a tent-maker, and I am sure he was good at it, but he was also useful in other ways, as we are about to see in this chapter. During a time of crisis, our spiritual gifts should rise to the occasion. This was certainly the case with Paul when a storm drove his ship off course and eventually battered it to pieces.
If interested, you can download the entire study of The Story of Acts