Change of Command (Acts 27-38)

Paul said to the centurion and to the soldiers, Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved. Then the soldiers cut off the ropes of the boat, and let her fall off. And while the day was coming on, Paul besought them all to take meat, saying, This day is the fourteenth day that ye have tarried and continued fasting, having taken nothing.” (Acts 27:31–33, AV)

When I was in the United States Army, I participated in many “Change of Command” ceremonies. These were often elaborate ceremonies. The most elaborate that included formations of soldiers from various units and a band was for Commanding Generals. Lesser ones were for Brigade and Battalion Commanders where the soldiers under their command would stand in formation on the Parade Field and then march by the reviewing stand and salute the commanders. Beneath that there was the company and platoon change of commands.

While in Germany as a Second Lieutenant, I had a change of command ceremony so to speak. It was not elaborate at all. At the time, I was the commander of the First Platoon. My Company Commander came down to the motor pool and came to me and said, “Lieutenant, why are you not with your platoon?” This kind of confused me because I was with them at the time. I stated, “I am with my platoon.” He then said, “No, you are not the First Platoon Leader, you have the Second Platoon.” I said, “Let me speak to my guys first,” meaning the First Platoon. He then stated, “These are not you men. You are the Second Platoon leader. Get there right now.”

The reason for my change in command was that Second Platoon was floundering and needed leadership. I immediately left my platoon area and moved to the Second Platoon.

Paul was on a ship caught in a fierce storm. The crew did everything possible to save the ship, but nothing worked. The passengers and crew were in panic mode. However, Paul was not. He was cool, calm and collected. Paul, who the captain and the centurion ignored earlier, now began to take charge of the ship and its passengers. He discovers that the ship’s crew were about to abandon the ship using the ship’s boat. He tells the centurion that if the crew leaves, the remaining passengers are doomed. Then the centurion cuts the ropes to the ship’s boat so the crew cannot abandon them. Following this, Paul having noticed that the passengers and crew have not eaten for fourteen days, he encouraged them to eat and assures them that they will survive. To this, they are encouraged.

Paul did not have an official change of command ceremony but a change of command was needed and Paul was the man of the hour. He took charge in that moment of need and brought confidence to those around him.

Often, we will find ourselves in chaotic situations when the leaders seem to have lost control. This is the time when calm, cool, and collected people are needed. Christians are the ones best equipped to stand up during these times. It is because of our faith in God’s sovereignty that we can have the proper demeanor to bring peace where there is chaos. We may not make great command decisions but by keeping cool and encouraging others we become great leaders and in a sense are part of a change of command in the situation.

Published by Steve Hankins, Th.D.

Steve has had extensive military, business and ministry experience. He has served for over 16 years in full time vocational ministry and many years of part time ministry in churches. He has led churches through start-up and recasting of vision. Now He resides on the Outer Banks of North Carolina where he is working to help smaller churches and believers to renew their hearts and regain the joy of the Lord.

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