Grace to you!
As I read 1 Peter 5:1-4, I could see the heart of an inspired and transformed leader speaking to his team. This biblical text could perfectly fit a lesson plan for any leadership workshop.
Not surprising. Today, the Church celebrates the Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter the Apostle; the seat of leadership and authority which Jesus the Lord established for the Church over 2000 years ago. “You are Peter,” the Lord said, “upon this rock I will build my church” (Matthew 16:18).
From I Peter 5:1-4, one could extract some crucial leadership principles. If we pay attention to them, they could transform the way we lead as church and as those concerned about heavenly things.
1. Peter speaks to other church leaders (presbyters) as “your fellow.” By this he is not saying to them I am above you, though in terms of authority, he is. Instead, he applies the principles of relationship, team building and collaboration. “I am your fellow. We are equal. We are in this together, as a team. It’s our thing not mine alone.”
2. He speaks to other presbyters as “a fellow witness” to the sufferings of Christ and “one who has a share in the glory to be revealed.” By this Peter points to the reality of their evidence, core value in Christ crucified. They are witnesses. They have mutually been introduced to the Christ-event. In case, they forget, a witness is a witness to something other than himself.
3. Similarly, he places, side by side, the suffering and the glory. The negatives, the weaknesses, and the woes of life to the exclusion of glory shouldn’t engross a great leader. Instead, the person inspires the led to see how weakness, in this case, suffering, is the stepping-stone to strength and glory. When church leaders speak from the cross to Easter, they inspire. The two must go in tandem.
4. Peter says, “Tend the flock of God.” The led, like the leader, are equally God’s sons and daughters. They deserve love and mutual respect. The church leader cultivates. He meticulously, tenderly and kindly oversees, and directs the flock to reach the dreams of their vocation. He nurtures and not stifles.
5. The leader tends not for a “shameful profit but eagerly.” In secular leadership, some say, in the final analysis, it’s about ROI (Return on Investment), which some insist has to do with the books, positive cash flow. Fiscal account matters. Surely it does. However, we know that those leaders who focus on profit, neglecting people and the subtle relationships and process leading to brand loyalty, may hit the jackpot but overtime lose the true value, including people. ROI isn’t simply about balancing the budget. It’s also about winning souls and warming hearts.
6. Similarly, a church leader who is inspired by the need to have fat donations or balance budget will definitely mislead the flock. Attuned to God and His promptings, focusing on people, the flock and their needs, glory will come at last.
7. Finally, and this is crucial, the authority a church or religious leader has is of spiritual and moral nature. Being role models for others is the expectation. This is effective if built on humility. Arrogance is contrary to authentic spiritual and moral authority. So also are bossiness and hypocrisy. Scripture says: “Do not lord if over those assigned to you, but be examples to the flock.”
In simple words, humility is key to church leadership. And servant-leadership, the kind put forward and inspired by the Lord Jesus Christ is the ideal.
Praying for all church leaders, for the grace to lead by serving. Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
Fr. Maurice Emelu, Ph.D.
Father Maurice provides a daily blog of reflections based on the bible readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration and developing your own thoughts. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.