Leadership is necessary. Leadership happens. Some leaders face anxiety over leading and shepherd too little. Some leaders have too little anxiety and dominate.
Peter having witnessed and struggled with the leadership style of Christ was molded by it and now sought to spread it. The instructions and manner of leadership as Christ would have it Peter records here. This is a source text of godly leadership. We should start with the scriptures and let God guide us into how his style fits with our gifts and abilities.
“1 So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: 2 shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; 3 not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.” (1 Peter 5:1-3; ESV)
Peter’s credentials for leadership
Willing leadership: like a shepherd
Drudgery to Enthusiasm…How?
“…willingly, as God would have you…” says the text. God’s pattern is always one of submission. God wants willing leaders, but there are many things man resists. The leader is to move from must to eager, from drudgery to enthusiasm. This is not mental. It is spiritual. It is not about rightness of the mind, but rightness of the will. The will is where the battle must be won. When any leader 4 hates (even a little bit) the direction of God they must take that hate to God for a little rebellion like yeast works its way through the whole person. They must get alone with God and stay there until the battle for the will is decided in God’s direction. 5 This may take years. It may take moments. It may be a style of struggle that rises over and over, but to move from must to eager, from drudgery to enthusiasm is of utmost importance. Ministry from must produces a different product than ministry from enthusiasm. Constrained activity has poorer results than willing activity.
Exampling leadership: not domination
A leader is often in a position of strength. Peter as a young follower of Christ was comfortable with leaders dominating. It probably can be said that he was comfortable being dominated. By extension one would figure that Peter would expect at that young stage to dominate those behind (below) him on the totem pole. Why do I say that? Look to that time when Christ came to wash Peter’s feet. To say that Peter recoiled from that would not be going too far. That approach touched something very instinctive to Peter. He became awkward and his awkward talked. Check out John 13 if you want to see the sparks get quenched.
By this stage in Peter’s life that lesson is installed. He now teaches it. It is a lesson that must be learned for humanity is more familiar with competition than cooperation. Cooperation as fellow followers of Christ in our God given roles and personalities will assemble into excellence on all levels.
Some summary topics, other ideas…
- Sheep can be lost (led too little); Sheep can be squashed (led too much)
- Peter was changed by Christ; it took years. No difference for us.
- See, struggle, become, spread (process improvement in the New Testament church)
- The letter Peter wrote was not written from Galilee but from maturity
- Peter led by example not lordship
- Live like you teach
- Pastors are people too (they have to struggle with their will before God)
- The gifts and abilities of church members will be providentially fit to those of its leaders (but it might seem otherwise)