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May 3, 2020 - Pastor Message

05/28/2020

THE YEAR OF DISCIPLESHIP CHRISTIAN LEADERSHIP (CONT.)

“Whoever  enters  the  sheepfold through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice, as he calls his own sheep by  name  and  leads  them  out. When he has driven out all his own, he walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they recognize his voice” (John 10:24).

In last week’s column we began our reflection on Christian  leadership  by  looking  at  characteristics common  to  all  Christian  leaders,  rooted  in  Jesus himself. The first two characteristics we considered were a commitment to doing the will of God and an attitude of service. This week we will consider two more common characteristics of Christian leadership modeled by Christ: a bond with the people we are called to lead, and the courage to lead others in the face of obstacles.

Jesus knew his disciples and called them by name. He shared his own mission with them, but before he sent them out to continue his mission, he shared his life with them.  They  traveled  together,  ate  together, worked  together,  and  grew  together  in  their knowledge of Jesus and he in his knowledge of them. He built a bond with them until he no longer called them servants but friends (John 15:15). Only then did he send them out to act in his name by doing for others what he did for them. Christian leadership is about building relationships, getting to know  one another by sharing our lives together, as Christ did with  his  disciples.  People  don’t  follow  ideas  or instructions; they follow people. The better we know one another and the stronger the bond we share, the more effective our leadership will be.

The  final  characteristic  common  to  all  Christian leadership that we will consider is the courage to lead in the face of obstacles. Jesus certainly faced many obstacles in his mission: opposition from without by the Jewish religious leaders and the close-mindedness of  the  people;  opposition  from  within  by  the treacherous  Judas  and  the  selfishness  and pigheadedness of the other disciples; even opposition  within his own heart, battling exasperation, despair, and fear. Yet he never let any of these obstacles stop him from carrying out his mission, nor from leading his disciples to take up the mission and lead others themselves. Christian leaders must have the same courage and perseverance in the face of obstacles today. They must have the courage to answer the call to leadership in the face of fear and self-doubt. They must have the courage to keep leading when others question or criticize them, and the courage to listen to the input of others even when it challenges their own ideas or assumptions. They must have the courage to lead when others walk away or when resources are limited or when no one seems to appreciate or support what they are doing. Christian leadership takes courage.

Fidelity to God’s will revealed in Christ; an attitude of service; a close, personal bond with those we lead; and the courage to lead in the face of obstacles these are the characteristics of all Christian leaders. The specific form each of these characteristics will take depends on the specific leadership roles to which we are called, but they are all necessary if we would be effective Christian leaders, and all of them come from Christ. Let our friendship with him be the first and most important bond we build, and may that bond help us to cultivate the characteristics we need to be true Christian leaders.

Fr. Marc Stockton

 

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