Lead Where You Are–Humbly and Despite the Challenges You Face
Why do I lead? What is my motive? These are two important questions to consider periodically as a pastor and church leader. Peter had his motives checked more than once by Christ as a young disciple. He exhibited some of the same weaknesses that we face as we grow and develop as leaders, including impulsiveness (John 18:10), overconfidence (Mark 14:29), envy (John 21:20–22), and controlling tendencies (John 13:8).
By the time he wrote his first letter, he was no doubt familiar with brokenness and humility. He was not only a leader, but a “broken-in” leader. As pastors or leaders we would be wise to consider Peter’s advice regarding leadership motivations.
The book of 1 Peter opens by establishing the fact that all believers (leaders included) will suffer difficulties and challenges. Peter adds that we should learn to view such “opportunities” with joyful expectation and to trust that God will use them to help spur and reveal our growth. The question Peter seeks to answer in this passage is this: Why should a pastor or church leader be willing to suffer? His answer: Because of the reward God has promised.
However, before revealing that reward, he taps into this all-important area of leadership motivation. After deconstructing false (and ungodly) motivations for leadership, Peter describes what good and godly leadership looks like. He chooses the metaphor of a good shepherd, which Jesus uses in John 10. He digs deeply into what motivates leaders and calls them to not just fill a slot, hold a title or take on an office, but to “be shepherds of God’s flock.” “Just as shepherds watch over their sheep, you must watch over everyone God has placed in your care....” (1 Peter 5:2a)
Peter describes the motivations of a godly leader (1 Peter 5:2–4). He says such a person leads:
• Not out of peer pressure (... but out of obedience (to God). “Do it willingly in order to please God, and not simply because you think you must.” (v. 5:2b)
• Not for profit (from others) ... but as a servant (of God). “Let it be something you want to do, instead of something you do merely to make money.” (v. 5:2c)
• Not after power (over others) ... but for the glory (of God). “Don’t be bossy to those people who are in your care, but set an example for them. Then when Christ the Chief Shepherd returns, you will be given a crown that will never lose its glory.” (vv. 5:3–4)
One of the best ways to keep ourselves and the people we serve humble is to keep our eyes, hearts, and minds focused on the Word of God. It not only purifies but also humbles us. As leaders, our duty is to help people turn away from pride and stay engaged in the Word.
Thought of the Day
Scripture engagement magnifies a our view of God and humbles our view of ourselves
What is my motive for leading? Do I sometimes lead because of the power? Do I lead out of a sense of duress or pressure, or for profit? Does leadership tend to humble me or make me prideful?
Great God and King, I am nothing without you. Help me to see you do great things in and through my life. Help me to keep my ego in check. Clothe me with humility and deep dependency upon you, your Spirit, and your Word, O Lord.
Take some time to journal through this: Peter borrows a metaphor for leadership that Jesus initially taught— that of the leader as shepherd. What is it about a shepherd that makes this role so fitting an example of godly leadership? Which of these characteristics do you find the easiest to emulate? Which is the most difficult? Why?