FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL
THE WAY FORWARD IN CHRIST
UNITY AND PEACE – 5
September 18, 2015
Today’s reading: 1 Timothy 6:2-12
Why is there so much conflict in Christian communities? Oftentimes it is not just because there are many sinners (all of us in fact) who are part of the Church and who are still growing in their faith, but due to servant leaders who do not understand what Christian leadership is about.
Servant leadership is about moving with Church teaching and community vision and mission. It is not about having one’s own personal agenda or priorities or preferences. “Whoever teaches something different and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the religious teaching is conceited, understanding nothing, and has a morbid disposition for arguments and verbal disputes.” (v.3-4a).
Have you ever met a leader who pushes his own ideas and agenda within a particular community that is contrary to the direction of the founders or overall leaders? Is that person not argumentative and often gets into verbal disputes? Is that person not conceited, thinking he knows better than those entrusted with the charism or the life and direction of the community? And no matter how smart or even brilliant that person is, he really understands nothing about humility, submission, patience, good order, respect for those over him, and the value of peace and unity.
What is the result of having such a leader? “From these come envy, rivalry, insults, evil suspicions, and mutual friction among people with corrupted minds, who are deprived of the truth” (v.4b-5a). And the result of that? Strife and disunity. And the result of that? Community is weakened and its mission disrupted.
How then are servant leaders to be authentic disciples of Jesus? “But you, man of God, avoid all this.” (v.11a). While we all have our own ideas and opinions, we are not to push these such that we become disruptive of community order. If our ideas and opinions have been heard, then we in humility and submission should allow those over us to continue to guide and lead the community. Such a posture in fact moves us forward in holiness, not being self-referential but looking to the overall good. “Instead, pursue righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience, and gentleness.” (v.11b).
- Righteousness. Do not gossip, slander or malign those you disagree with.
- Devotion. Bring to God and not to your co-workers your personal struggles with the moves of your leaders.
- Faith. Trust in God that, if we are all focused on Christ and are praying, He will work things out for the good of all. God can even make straight crooked lines.
- Love. Love the brethren out of love for God. If we are called on by Jesus to even love our enemies, then so much more those we disagree with but are not our enemies. Only the devil is our enemy. Be supportive of the leadership.
- Patience. Wait on the Lord. Express your opinions, certainly, but then leave it up to God and to the leadership to decide on the way to go.
- Gentleness. Do not be argumentative or combative to the point of generating strife.
In addition, Paul tells Timothy, and us, “Compete well for the faith.” (v.12a). We are in competition, not with our brethren and co-workers, but as in a race or a struggle that is to be won. In this race we in community are all teammates, not rivals, not opponents, not tripping each other up.
Finally, we are all racing to the finish line, to receive the crown of glory, and enter into eternal life. “Lay hold of eternal life, to which you were called when you made the noble confession in the presence of many witnesses.” (v.12b). Let us not hamper the work of evangelization God has given us. Let us not endanger our own entry into eternal life. Let us not go back or renege on our confession of faith, and our witness before our brethren through the years of faithful service. Let us always be working for unity and peace.
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