It is Saint Patrick’s Day and we are all running around trying to find our green shirts to avoid getting pinched. With all the kids, this could turn into a major fight fast if everyone is not all prepared.
But the real Saint Patrick is quite an amazing story of God’s providence in history and another example that God has his own ways of forming leaders.
Here’s a link to a brief overview of the real Saint Patrick story.
There are a couple really interesting things about his story and how it mirrors other great men of the Bible.
God’s recipe for leadership often looks like this:
1. Take one weak and sinful man.
2. Use prison, slavery, isolation, or wilderness to break and humble him.
3. Take him to a place where he is an outsider (e.g Joseph and Moses, Hebrews in Egypt and Paul a Jew and yet a Roman Citizen sent to preach to Gentiles, Saint Patrick, an Irishmen, enslaved and raised in Rome, sent back to Ireland years later)
4. Use that tension of being “stuck in the middle” of two worlds to give that man a unique opportunity and voice to preach when the time is right.
5. And at all points make it hard so that he never feels like he can do it apart from God’s all powerful grace.
There’s is one book that I read several years ago that even makes the claim that Saint Patrick is one of the reasons that Western Civilization survived the fall of the Roman Empire. It states that, as the Roman Empire started to slip into the Dark Ages, Saint Patrick began planting churches. Those churches turned into monasteries that continued to teach writing and literacy on the isolated island of Ireland, as the rest of the world fell into the Dark Ages. Thus, preserving Western Civilization and Christianity for the World.
All this is interesting, but I think there is more to it. I think the stories of Saint Patrick and the other great men of the Bible are not isolated to great world changes. I think God’s formula works the same for us toady. Our imprisonment and wilderness may look more like a “dead-end” job, a broken family, a barren women who desperately wants to have children, a single young man or woman that wants to be married. Our being strangers may simply look like the only Christian in our office or a young man feeling the call to ministry but placed in another non-ministry job so he can provide for his family. The formula is the same.
While there is much to glean from today’s volumes written on leadership, let’s not forget Saint Patrick and all those that have come before him and after him, whose only leadership qualities were actually their inabilities and their only strength was the God that paved the way.