LOWLY LEADERS!

LOWLY LEADERS!

To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder and a witness of Christ’s sufferings, who will also share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under you care, watching over them – not because you must, but because you are willing as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. (1 Peter 5: 1-3)

What a lofty standard for God’s appointed leaders! Yet how paradoxical! Leaders must take the lowest position – that of servants, like shepherds caring for a flock of sheep.

What’s the basis of such a standard? Jesus! Peter watched him die. It was a flashback he would never forget. A bloodied figure hanging from a Roman torture stake so disfigured that He was hardly recognisable as a man. Like hamburger meat skewered on a pole; that’s how one translation pictures Him.

. . . His appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any human being and His form beyond human likeness. . . (Isa. 52: 13)

That’s what they did to Him and not once did He protest or resist.

He was oppressed and afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; He was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He did not open His mouth. (Isa. 53: 7)

So, where does the idea come from that church leaders must be a cut above everyone else? Swanky limousines, richly embroidered robes or designer suits, unlisted telephone numbers, even bodyguards, no less; titles they love to wear to boost their egos and give them authority! Is that how shepherds care for their sheep? Jesus said, ‘Don’t do it! You are to care for your sheep, not boss them around.’

Another flashback – a scene on the shore of Lake Galilee. Twelve men sitting around a coal fire eating breakfast. One is missing – he committed suicide. One hangs back, uncertain and ashamed. ‘Am I still accepted as part of this bunch?’ Breakfast over, Jesus talks to Peter while the others listen in. They may not have verbally denied Him at His trial but they were equally guilty of desertion. What will He say to Peter? Whatever He said would apply to them also.

Imagine their shock! ‘Simon, son of John . . .’ Not Peter, the rock, but Simon, one who hears, or listens. ‘Simon, are you listening?’ Yes, Lord, I’m listening. ‘Simon, do you love me?’ What! After all I’ve done to you, Jesus, is that all you have to say? Do I love you? Wait a minute! There’s a world of significance in that simple question.

Love is the basis of loyalty, trust, faithfulness, submission, obedience, commitment, perseverance, service, yes and even martyrdom – and Peter, your turn is coming.

Peter, do you really love me? If you do, feed my sheep and take care of my lambs. I am not giving you a position. I am giving you a commission. FEED my sheep; TAKE CARE of my lambs. That means that you have to shed your fancy clothes and your even fancier image of yourself and get down and dirty for my sake. They are my sheep and my lambs, not yours to bully and exploit for your own ends.

The standard is the same for every leader who follows after Peter – not little popes to rule over God’s people, but under-shepherds of Jesus to serve Him by caring for His sheep. This is not for opportunistic rogues who grab the position to enrich themselves at the expense of their underlings or to elevate themselves above others for image or status. This is a calling of God to be like Jesus to helpless people who depend on them for protection, provision and instruction so that they do not wander away and get lost.

Oh, that every leader who claims to be God’s shepherd would heed Peter’s words! What a sad day it will be for those who forget that they are accountable to God for every word and deed. How many of those who have enjoyed all the benefits of their treachery will hear the words of Jesus:

Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ (Matt. 7:21-23)?

Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

 

 

 

Luella Campbell


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