May 3, 2020 - Pastor Message05/28/2020
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