FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL
ON SERVANT LEADERSHIP
TENDING THE FLOCK – 2
February 22, 2014
Today’s reading: 1 Peter 5:1-4
Peter addresses the presbyters, who are the officially appointed leaders and teachers of the Christian community. For us today, these are the servant leaders.
The work of servant leaders is basically to care for the people placed under them. “Tend the flock of God in your midst” (v.2a). It is important to realize that they are God’s flock, not ours. They belong to God, not to us. But God has entrusted His flock to us. So we are to lead them. We are to tend to them as leaders. At the same time, Peter instructs, “Do not lord it over those assigned to you” (v.3a). We are leaders but we do our task by serving the flock. We do not lord it over them as the pagans do. We are leaders but not lords. We are their servants. Leading but serving, we are servant leaders.
What are some important characteristics of servant leaders?
First, since we serve the flock that belongs to God, we always turn to God’s wisdom and God’s ways. We serve not as we would want, but “as God would have it” (v.2c). This means the servant leader must be a prayerful person, and one who is growing in holiness. We need to be able to take on the mind and heart of God. We need to resist applying our mere human wisdom and insisting on our faulty human perceptions and directions.
Second, we have no personal agenda. We serve “not for shameful profit” (v.2d). We are not in there for pride, power, privilege, personal preference, or the like. We look to receiving no earthly reward, but only our heavenly reward. We look not to advance our personal interest, but always the interests of our Lord. We look not to satisfy ourselves, except having the satisfaction of having served God and His people.
Third, we should not feel forced into service, but realize the privilege of being called. Thus we serve “not by constraint but willingly” (v.2b). Being servant leaders is a great privilege. We step into the very sandals of Jesus. We are instruments of God Himself, caring for His flock. We are allowed to do very important work, even in our unworthiness. And so in fact, we should serve “eagerly” (v.2e). We must be overflowing with gratitude to God. We must be joyful, even in difficulty and trial. We must desire greatly to be of use to our God.
Fourth, we should “be examples to the flock.” (v.3b). We lead by example. We do not only talk the talk, but walk the talk. Our subordinates must see that what we teach is what we live. We should be witnesses to Jesus.
Fifth, we should be “witness to the sufferings of Christ” (v.1b). To be a witness is to be a martyr. To serve Jesus and to live the life of Jesus is not easy. In fact, it is very challenging. And when we take care of God’s flock, then we become special targets of the enemy. We will be bruised and bloodied. Even those we serve may not appreciate us, or worse, turn against us. Now Jesus accepted suffering as something that was salvific. We must do likewise. We are given the privilege to serve, we are also given the privilege to suffer.
Sixth, we must be confident in our reward, as “one who has a share in the glory to be revealed.” (v.1c). Life on earth, and specially as aservant leader, is difficult and full of trials. At times we may want to give up. At times we might wallow in frustration and self-pity. These are times for growth in holiness, as we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and on our eternal reward. We are privileged to be purified, so that we will have our share of glory.
So servant leaders, tend the flock of God in your midst. Serve them as Jesus would serve them. Even suffer as Jesus suffered, wearing your own crown of thorns. But be assured: “when the chief Shepherd is revealed, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.” (v.4).
* * *