Running with the Ringleaders

by Joanna Pierce on July 05, 2017

When I was a child I got myself into a lot of trouble, but I rarely exercised my wayward wiles solo. My younger sister was frequently my partner in crime. I led by example (and sometimes threatened), but we led a lucrative crime wave: the idiot and the lame.

If there was mayhem to be found, I was the one responsible—I was a ringleader of sorts. If my sister was caught, my parents sought out the (un)mastermind behind the operation. I always thought the ringleader was a cool person until I found myself grounded, face-first in a corner, or with the inability to sit down…

Due to my dabbling as a former ringleader, this is probably why I laughed aloud when I read the following Scripture about Paul the other day:

For we have found this man a pestilent fellow, and a mover of sedition among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes (Acts 24:5, KJV).

Can you believe Tertullus called Paul (the greatest Apostle who ever walked the earth) a troublemaker and a ringleader of a cult? Just in case you’re unfamiliar with the concept of a ringleader, Merriam-Webster defines it as a person who is a leader of a group that causes trouble or is involved in an illegal activity. And, I find it even funnier than Merriam-Webster believes the first use of the term ringleader was used circa 1503. Apparently they never read the Bible…

Because God never does anything by accident, I believe there’s a reason why Paul was described as a ringleader. The word prótostatés, used only once in Scripture, means leader—someone who stands in the front, a soldier, a chief/captain, and a champion.

Tertullus viewed Paul as a menace to society; someone who instigated dissention among the people and throughout the world. A ringleader by Tertullus’ (and the world’s) definition, was someone who was up to no good.

In reality, all Paul had done was visited the temple to complete a purification ceremony and was never in the presence of (and/or caused) a riot (Acts 24:12). But, Paul took the opportunity then and there to fully adopt this ringleader label. He told his accusers he followed the way they defined as cultish and was in fact their chief ringleader (Acts 24:14). Paul told everyone he worshipped the God of their ancestors—Jesus Christ.

In a manner of speaking, Paul told all he was going to publicize Jesus’ name and the importance of living for Him everywhere he went. And, Paul would gladly be called a ringleader for Jesus.

While I’ve grown up and put aside most of my childhood schemes, I don’t think I’ve ever let go of my ringleader tendencies. Ironically, like Paul, when I started living for Jesus, I was accused by some of being “brainwashed” and a member of a cult. When I started witnessing to others about Jesus and His Word, I was definitely told I was stirring up trouble. But, regardless of what the world thinks, and what others have said to me, I still am pushing forward as a ringleader for Jesus—spreading the Gospel message everywhere I can. And, the term ringleader, isn’t so bad in my book anymore.

Scripture tells us we’ll be hated of men when we serve the Lord (Matthew 10:22). If someone wants to call you a ringleader, just remember you’re in league with the running of Paul, and others like Him. I challenge you to be a leader, and a champion for Jesus. Go into all the world and preach the Gospel!