One more time: godly leadership looks like …
Over the past several posts, I have been reviewing the Bible’s use of three metaphors—steward, servant, shepherd—to contrast the sort of leadership God commends among His people with that which is typically practiced in this fallen world. Let’s re-visit these terms one final time.
Did the disciples get it?
Peter leads in the extension of the shepherd leadership metaphor to church and spiritual leadership of all kinds. Jesus’ words of restoration and re-commissioning, “Shepherd my sheep” (Jn. 21:16) must have reverberated in Peter’s mind in especially powerful ways. Peter, of all Jesus’ disciples, might have had cause to claim elevated status. After all, he was the one who first confessed, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God” (Mt. 16:16). It was he who, admittedly humbled by failure, was nevertheless the primary spokesperson on Pentecost and other occasions (Acts 2, 3), the conduit of healing power (Acts 3, 5), the object of an angelic escort out of prison (Acts 4), the pronouncer of Divine judgment upon Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5), and the recipient of a new revelation about Gentile inclusion (Acts 10).
Did they ever!
A man of great prominence, you might even say spiritual eminence, Peter declines to leverage these credentials in his exercise of leadership. How does he describe himself? To what “authority” does he appeal? He offers the following bona fides: “… I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ’s sufferings, and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed…” (1 Pet. 5:1). He now exhorts church elders scattered throughout the Roman world to, “Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care …” (1 Pet. 5:2). In the following verses, note the echoes of Old Testament prophecy and Jesus’ teaching relative to false and true shepherding:
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. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away. Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 5:2-11)
Three questions to keep your leadership biblically focused
There you have it, Scripture presents three pervasive metaphors by which to pattern our leadership. Godly leaders are like stewards, servants, shepherds. These metaphors anchor our leadership by answering three key questions every leader needs to know the answer to:
Steward: Who’s My Boss?
Servant: What’s My Status?
Shepherd: What’s My Job?
*Note: This post is excerpted from my 2013 book, The Leader’s Palette: Seven Primary Colors
Fresh gleanings to fuel your leadership awareness, reflection, and conversations …
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