10:7 Do you look at things according to the outward appearance? If anyone is convinced in himself that he is Christ’s, let him again consider this in himself, that just as he is Christ’s, even so we are Christ’s. 8 For even if I should boast somewhat more about our authority, which the Lord gave us for edification and not for your destruction, I shall not be ashamed— 9 lest I seem to terrify you by letters. 10 “For his letters,” they say, “are weighty and powerful, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible.” 11 Let such a person consider this, that what we are in word by letters when we are absent, such we will also be in deed when we are present.
Christian leadership is a tough spot to be in, especially when it's being challenged or when the body needs correction. When a leader is over a company or some other enterprise it's very different. In that scenario the good of the company trumps the well being of the employee. You see it starkly in the sports world. A player may give years of productive service to his team but as soon as the production drops off they are sent packing. Victory and/or increasing profits is all that matters.
In the kingdom of God it does not work like this. The people are the enterprise. Their success and well being is the "business". As Paul so eloquently put it, "God gave us authority for edification, not for destruction." Christian leaders exist to build up those they lead and serve. That's exactly what Paul is doing for the Corinthians. Even though he has lots on his own plate with beatings, and imprisonment and trouble on several sides he carries his churches on his heart. He thinks about them and gives them instruction and guidance even from a long way off. His leadership is not always appreciated. Correction is resisted. Others are eager to seize leadership for other motives. He is misrepresented by some, criticized by others, and questioned by still more.
How does a leader lead in such circumstances? To assert authority over people is never welcomed. To sit idly by while others with deceptive motives seek to take leadership is irresponsible. So Paul is left to remind them of his own motives, his track record, even his Divine calling.
Just this week I faced the news one of my members may be leaving for greener pastures. The allure of a TV evangelist promising health and wealth is greater than what we can offer yet this evangelist wasn't there when... Nor will he be there in the future when...
It's hard to watch people make bad choices. People left Jesus, sometimes en masse. He even asked His twelve one day if they were going to leave too. It's tough being a true Christ-like leader. The weapons are different. The tactics of the world have no place. If truth, character, integrity, and love aren't enough there is nothing left to do but feel the pain as they head for folly.
Be careful of your choices. Be careful of who you choose as leaders and people of influence in your life. The devil has a personalized concoction of deception for every one of us. Don't drink the Koolaid. Follow Him and those who represent Him. You will know them by their love, even their rebuking, correcting love.