Christian Leadership - What it is
"Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care, serving as overseers-not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock." 1 Peter 5:2-3
This is Peter's advice to the elders of the Church. As elders, we do not own the community. We have no right to do what we want with the community because the community belongs to God. As elders, we are to oversee and act as stewards - making sure that we do with the community as the Lord wants us to. Jesus gave us the best example of leadership - service.
What is meant by service? My first idea of Christian service is to go out of my way and literally serve others. However as time passes, I get the feeling that this is an imperfect idea of service. Service to the community as a leader is looking after the community - making sure that the members of the community grow in their person. We are made up of body and soul. And growth is defined as progress in both the body and soul. A Christian leader therefore should look after the physical and spiritual growth of the members. One does this not out of obligation but because it is the right thing to do.
In Acts 6, we see the appointment of deacons. The cause of their appointment was that the Greeks felt that they were being neglected in the distribution of food. So the apostles appointed seven deacons to ensure that the Greeks are also given enough food. What Peter said after this shows the main purpose of leaders of the community - to be devoted to prayer and preaching the Word. As a leader we are suppose to feed the members with spiritual food as well as material food. I am not saying that you should give your members money to buy their food but what I am saying is that the community should ensure that the material needs of members are also looked after.
In the past few years, we see Church leaders advocating social justice and equality. In doing so, some of them forget their main purpose as leaders - to devote themselves to prayer and preaching the Word. As a leader we have to devote ourselves to prayer. "No slave is greater than his master" was what Jesus said. Jesus himself had to spend hours praying to the Father. If he - the Son of God - had to spend hours praying, how much more for us his followers. Prayer is a vehicle for us to know God more. If we do not pray - we will not grow in knowledge of God. And if we do not grow in our knowledge of God, we cannot preach God's word to our community. (Or worse, we will be preaching the wrong thing to the community and mislead them.) If we do not preach God's word, the community stops growing. In his letter to the Church of Rome, Paul says "Faith comes from hearing." The community's growth therefore is based on what is preached.
I think Christian leadership boils down to these words: humble service according to God's will. Mother Theresa of Calcutta always asks people to pray for her so that she will not destroy God's work. I guess as leaders, we too should be humble enough to admit that we do not have all the answers to problems in the community and that we need the Lord's help in building the community. "Unless the Lord builds a house, the builders labour in vain."
Let us pray that our leaders may be given the spirit to serve us humbly as they build a community owned by the Father, led by Jesus his Son and empowered by the Holy Spirit.
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