‘And now, a word to you who are elders in the churches. I too, am an elder and a witness to the sufferings of Christ. And I, too, will share his glory and his honour when he returns. As a fellow elder, this is my appeal to you: Care for the flock of God entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly—not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God. Don’t lord it over the people assigned to your care, but lead them by your good example. And when the head Shepherd comes, your reward will be a never-ending share in his glory and honour.’
–1st Peter 5:1–4
When we show love to the people under our leadership, the true character of God is being displayed to those around us. They will want to know more about the God whose character we portray. That is the effective way of spreading the gospel (at home and abroad). If however, we allow pride, resentment, anger, jealousy, envy, selfishness or any other form of evil to control our behaviour in leadership, then, we are not reflecting the true character of God. Through our actions we are deceiving those we lead. That is a form of abuse and God is not pleased. If you find yourself in the habit of deceiving others, I admonish you to go to God with a repentant heart and ask His forgiveness for being a poor example of Christ. Next, based on 2nd Tim 2:15, feed on His word, daily, so that you may be properly equipped to lead the flock.
Knowing that what we do reflect the One who called us, equipped us and sent us, we must make sure that, in our doing, we reflect His kindness and care. In leading, we must lead the flock with humility and serve them (faithfully) as part of our service unto God. We must allow the grace of God that is freely given unto us, to enable us to love all—not just the ones we deem loveable. The ones we see as ‘complicated’ or ‘difficult to handle’ are the ones crying out for love. They want to see Christ operating through us. The people who are sent to us or to whom we are sent may act differently to those whom we are familiar. Alternatively, they may do things in a different way to how we do things. That may be due to their background or experiences (whether negative or positive ones). Therefore, they present the perfect opportunity for teaching and learning.
We should not judge them, gossip about them, marginalise them or ‘back bench’ them because they do not fit into our idea of a ‘perfect’ setting. It will do them no good—only add to their pain. That is one sure way of inflicting soul-wounds. To avoid that happening, we must find opportunities to get to know them better so that we may understand their reasoning for doing the things they do. God sent them to us for a purpose—He knows the plans He has for each of us—His plan is to prosper us, not to harm us (see Jeremiah 29:11). If they all came as mature believers then there wouldn’t be any opportunity for teaching—there would therefore, not be a need for the spiritual gifts of teaching and shepherding. Be thankful for them. They learn from us and teach us great lessons. In reaching out to them God will continue to teach us also. It’s a win-win situation.
Remember now, ‘…the Son of man is come to save that which was lost’(Matthew 18:11). In St. Luke 5:31-32, Jesus said, ‘They that are whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.’Only love can heal our broken society and that is what leadership in the church is all about—showing love in words and deeds. In Matthew 25 we see a perfect picture of love as it is supposed to be. Please take some time to read this chapter of Matthew, from verse 31 through to verse 40, to see the heart of Christ and what He requires of His followers. If we choose to ignore His teaching in this matter then the remainder of the chapter (verse 41-46) serves as a warning to us.
My dear brothers and sisters, fellow leaders in the church, you are loved because you are one of God’s children. You are loved because you have accepted the call to serve others but today I stand in the gap of fellow believers wanting you to know that you cannot do it alone. Only a submitted life (a Christ-centred life) can be fully effective in leadership. In order for leaders to prosper in their ministries, God has to be the centre of it all. It cannot be done in human strength. I encourage you, therefore, to read what God has to say about the matter in Joshua 1:7. Then read 1 Peter 5:1-11 and apply the teaching to your life and ministry. As we remember you in prayer we would also like to encourage you to keep on the right path. I pray for you in line with Jude 1:2,‘Mercy unto you, and peace, and love, be multiplied.’
© 2013, J. S. Ramkissoon.
>>> Continues in part 3, ‘Pray for Our Leaders’
__Edited 29th November 2013
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