Working Together for Victory

Blog-10.17-800x480.jpgCaption: Part of a pavement found near the theater of Corinth which states
“Erastus” who was the aedile of the city.
An “aedile” was in charge of the financial matters of the city —
and was very wealthy. The pavement was laid about A.D. 50.

God’s Special Purpose

In our Christian lives, perhaps from the time we were first clothed with Christ, we believed God had a special purpose for us.  In some cases that meant working in the paid full-time ministry as a pastor.  For others it may have been a call to work for a non-profit, serving those in poverty, supporting orphans, helping battered women, reporting on the tragedies of hate victims worldwide and so on.  Others may have heard God’s call as a Christian entrepreneur, to build a business that would employ Christians and provide for their families.  Still others may not have known precisely their calling, but had a sense God would reveal that great purpose in time, so they excelled in their career as their testimony.

Whatever our story, we all developed an early conviction to work with all our hearts knowing God Himself was our ultimate boss (Col 3:23).  We wanted more than anything to glorify Him as the salt of the earth, the light of the world, that city on a hill.  We would touch people’s lives and bring the love of Christ to the unknowing.

Victory in Working Together

Today we find ourselves with a unique opportunity, a call for unity and cooperation across all four inspired callings.  Whether we work for an Alliance (non-profit), Business, Church or as an Individual, victory awaits for those who work together.

“Growth is never by mere chance; it is the result of forces working together.” – J.C. Penney

An inspirational story that illustrates this important truth unfolded between two men in the New Testament.  One of them was a Christian professional and businessman named Erastus.  The other was a church evangelist, the apostle Paul.  There are only three places Erastus is mentioned in the New Testament, just enough to learn of his role working with the most influential church leader of all time.

Paul’s Helper

After all this had happened, Paul decided to go to Jerusalem,
passing through Macedonia and Achaia…
He sent two of his helpers, Timothy and Erastus, to Macedonia,
while he stayed in the province of Asia a little longer.
Acts 19:21-22

While in Ephesus on his third missionary journey, Paul sent Timothy and Erastus ahead of him to Macedonia, modern day Greece.  From there they went to a region in lower Greece called Achaia, to the great city of Corinth.  It was in Corinth Paul met up with them.  Erastus was one of Paul’s traveling companions. Since he was traveling with the likes of this super apostle, it’s safe to assume he helped spread God’s word, building the first century church.

Influence in Corinth

It was in Corinth Paul would write what may have been his most profound letter – his letter to the church in Rome.  In this letter Erastus is mentioned for the second time.  This is the where we are given insight into his skill as a Christian professional:

Gaius, whose hospitality I and the whole church here enjoy,
sends you his greetings.
Erastus, who is the city’s director of public works,
and our brother Quartus, send you their greetings.
Romans 16:23

Whoa!  Within months of Paul meeting up with Timothy and Erastus in Corinth (approximately 57 AD), Erastus had become the Corinthian city’s director of public works.  Corinth was one of the largest cities in the Mediterranean region and a significant port city.  It was also one of the largest of the first-century churches. This position meant he oversaw all infrastructure projects financed and constructed by the government for recreational, employment, health and safety in the greater community.  It was a position of much authority.  Maybe Erastus had been trained as an engineer and left his full-time job to accompany Paul on his travels, and for reasons we can’t know, had pursued this high-level position after arriving in Corinth.

Missing from the List

Acts 20:4[Paul] was accompanied by Sopater son of Pyrrhus from Berea,
Aristarchus and Secundus from Thessalonica,
Gaius from Derbe, Timothy also, and Tychicus and
Trophimus from the province of Asia.
Acts 20:4

This would have been the third opportunity to mention Erastus.  This time, however, we find him missing from the list of Paul’s traveling companions as Paul departed Corinth.  It appears Erastus stayed behind.  We can speculate that Paul realized Erastus could have more of an influence as the city’s director of public works than as a traveling evangelist.  Or maybe Erastus financially supported Paul’s ministry and traveled with Paul to continue that support until he assumed his new role in Corinth.

He Stayed Behind

Near the end of Paul’s life (approximately 67 AD), from a prison in Rome, he wrote his second letter to his faithful companion Timothy.  In this third mention of Erastus, we confirm our previous notion that Paul indeed left Erastus in Corinth to continue as the city’s director of public works.

Erastus stayed in Corinth, and I left Trophimus sick in Miletus.
2 Timothy 4:20

We certainly don’t know the full story and all its details.  Was Erastus accompanying Paul for the very deliberate reason of becoming the Corinthian Director of Public Works?  Perhaps.  Might Erastus have been traveling with Paul as a trainee, like Timothy and Titus, to someday become an elder of a larger church?  Maybe.  We just don’t know.

This story appealed to me as a member of the Christian Chamber of Commerce because it shows the victory of Christians working together, whether as a business owner, employee, pastor or non-profit leader.  After all, this was Paul’s third or four missionary journeys.  Erastus played an important role as a fellow soldier of Christ.

This brief story of a little-known character named Erastus encourages me to be all I can be in my corporate role while supporting the work of the church.

Whatever the reasons for Erastus going to Corinth, he served God from a place in the secular world, a position of authority in one of the largest cities of the first century, as well as a side-by-side companion with the church.

God uses all of us in various ways, at various times and in various places. He calls us to serve the greater mission by working together.  Imagine all the Greek officials, politicians, and prominent people Erastus could now access for Christ.  Imagine the help he provided Paul before, during and after the missionary journey.  This is the true victory.

Shawn Sommerkamp is a member of SC-C3 Charleston, a motivational speaker and Executive Coach with 20+ years of Fortune 100 leadership experience.  He founded Motivationeer™ to coach Christian professionals how to bring the power of Christ’s word, as the foundation of career success, into corporate and small business America.  Shawn can be reached at Motivationeer.com