ON SERVANT LEADERSHIP
AT PEACE WITH GOD AND BRETHREN
September 16, 2013
1 Timothy 2:1-8
The servant leader is appointed by God to care for His people. As such he relates to both God and man. In his relationship with God, he should be prayerful and holy. In his relationship with brethren, he should strive to be at peace with all. “It is my wish, then, that in every place the men should pray, lifting up holy hands, without anger or argument.” (1 Tm 2:8).
How do we achieve peaceful relationships with our brethren, so that “we may lead a quiet and tranquil life in all devotion and dignity” (1 Tm 2:2b)? This will happen when we pray for one another, because doing so puts the persons we pray for in our hearts, and as we lift them up to God, we desire that God do the good that He does for His people. It happens when we thank God for our brethren, which shows that we look on them as God’s beloved children and gifts to us and to our community. “First of all, then, I ask that supplications, prayers, petitions, and thanksgivings be offered for everyone” (1 Tm 2:1).
The brethren should also be praying for their leaders, “for kings and for all in authority” (1 Tm 2:2a). This is because how their leaders act and govern will determine their own personal and spiritual well-being. When both leaders and subordinates are praying for each other (but not imposing their own selfish desires through their prayers), then there will be peace and unity.
Loving relationships, peace and unity are “good and pleasing to God our savior” (1 Tm 2:3). Why? Simply because they are the one body of Christ, and God is not divided or at war with Himself. And because peace and unity are essential if the body is to move forward as one to effectively accomplish its mission. And what is that? It is to proclaim Christ and bring people back to God and back to the Church. God “wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth.” (1 Tm 2:4).
In serving his brethren, the servant leader needs to be mindful that Jesus “gave himself as ransom for all.” (1 Tm 2:6). When the apostles argued about leadership and glory in the Kingdom, Jesus told them that the gentiles lord it over those under them, but that such was not for the apostles. For them, just as for him, he came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom. The servant leader expends himself in order to help bring God’s people to a deeper life in Christ.
How does the servant leader accomplish that difficult task? They are supposed to lift up holy hands. They come before the Lord in deep prayer, especially when their service becomes challenging. “Hear the sound of my pleading when I cry to you for help when I lift up my hands toward your holy place.” (Ps 28:2). They are supposed to pray for their brethren and be in right relationship with them, especially their subordinates. When they pray, they are not to try to enlist God to impose on the brethren, but to genuinely seek what is their good. When they relate, they cannot be those “who speak peace to their neighbors though evil is in their hearts.” (Ps 28:3b).
As I said at the start, the servant leader is appointed by God to care for His people. It is a hard task, but he must know he is called, appointed and anointed by God, who would then provide for his needs. And it is through him that God strengthens His people. “Lord, you are a strength for your people, the saving refuge of your anointed.” (Ps 28:8).
If God does all these for His servant leaders, then they should trust Him, rejoice in Him, and praise Him. “The Lord is my strength and my shield, in whom my heart trusts. I am helped, so my heart rejoices; with my song I praise him.” (Ps 28:7).
God intends to bring His people to fullness of salvation, ultimately bringing them to heaven. They are His people, the sheep of His flock, but in this life, God assigns servant leaders to be His instruments. If servant leaders pray, grow in holiness, intercede for those under them, and work at peace and unity, then they become instruments indeed that God can use. Then, even as the task is very hard, they will not have to bear the greater burden. With confidence they can look to God and pray, “Save your people, bless your inheritance, pasture and carry them forever!” (Ps 28:9).