Original Research - Special Collection: Sustainable leadership in times of uncertainty

A mission made to last: Paul as a sustainable leader according to the Book of Acts

Christoph W. Stenschke
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 44, No 1 | a2717 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v44i1.2717 | © 2023 Christoph W. Stenschke | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 30 August 2022 | Published: 06 April 2023

About the author(s)

Christoph W. Stenschke, Department of Biblical and Ancient Studies, College of Human Sciences, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa


This essay examines how the Book of Acts portrays Paul as a sustainable leader. Paul not only preached the Gospel, but also gathered his converts into communities, trained and installed their leaders, visited these communities regularly, and co-operated with a large group of co-workers whom he would train to take over from him. He readily made himself available as an example for others to follow. Paul established churches in major urban centres, which would take the Gospel to their surrounding areas. In all of this, he not only followed some early Jewish practises but also emulated the example of Jesus, who likewise carefully prepared a group of people to continue his ministry after his departure. While Paul’s circumstances and strategies cannot simply be copied in the different contexts, this presentation closes by describing what can be learnt from this portrayal for sustainable leadership in today’s churches and other organisations.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: This article not only contributes to our understanding of the Book of Acts but also the way it characterises the ministry of Paul who dominates the second half of the Acts. In some instances, this portrayal challenges the understanding of Paul as he is seen in much of New Testament scholarship based solely on the letters of Paul. The research also contributes to practical theology/Christian leadership studies as it, based on the historical Paul, indicates some ingredients of sustainable leadership in Christian and in secular contexts. The research is also of relevance for secular leadership studies and social sciences.


Paul (apostle); Acts of the Apostles (New Testament); sustainable leadership; Christian leadership; the Lukan Paul; Paul, the missionary.

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 16: Peace, justice and strong institutions


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