That the Apostle Paul was conscientious of how his words and deeds would discredit his gospel ministry is clear from his writings. For example, while he had the right to receive financial support from the Corinthians (see 1 Cor. 9:11), Paul would rather forgo such, in order to protect his gospel ministry among them.
7 Or did I commit a sin in humbling myself so that you might be exalted, because I preached God’s gospel to you free of charge? 8 I robbed other churches by accepting support from them in order to serve you. (2 Cor. 11:7-8)
Clearly, Paul knew why he was called to Christian ministry. It was not to commend himself as his critics were doing (2 Cor. 10:12). It was not to build his own empire or climb the ladder of success as the world measures success. Rather, Paul would say, “We put no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way” (2 Cor. 6:3-4).
So that he would “put no obstacle in anyone’s way, Paul offers a few guidelines that all of us in Christian ministry need. First, know who you are. Paul knew that he was a servant of God. “Servant” and “ministry” are from diakono word group. Earlier he affirms that God not only makes us us “sufficient ministers of a new covenant” (3:6), but by the mercy of God we have also receive the ministry (4:1).
Second, live in such a way that you can commend yourself. Back in 4:2, after renouncing disgraceful and underhanded ways, Paul says, “We commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.” This is quite a statement! How many of us are able to say this? Let’s be honest. This is what we should all aspire to in Christian ministry.
So I leave you with this: If you’re a pastor, an evangelist, a teacher or in any kind of Christian ministry, leading the Lord’s people, I commend to you the Apostle Paul and his approach to ministry. As he himself would say, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1).