1 Peter 5:5,6
“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God that he may exalt you in due time.” (1 Peter 5:5,6)
Yesterday we considered six characteristics of godly leaders. Today let us consider five more characteristics of the leader who follows God’s model. You may be the leader, certainly you are around church leaders. The leader we describe will be among God’s people as one who serves. Here are five more characteristics of godly leaders:
- Eager …serving…eagerly (vs. 2). Similar to the “freely” characteristic but adding the positive. Not only should the service not be coerced, it should be with enthusiasm, not reluctant. Jesus endured the cross for the joy set before him. He took up the towel and basin in the upper room because of his great love for the disciples. Great love is the seed from which eager serving is the fruit.
- Non-Coercive Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers not…as being lords over those entrusted to you…(vs. 2,3). Although God’s authority is absolute, he doesn’t use this authority in a coercive way. God goes to great lengths to teach, to persuade, to motivate, yes, to woo. He forces no man to accept his lordship. Control does not mark the way God works. There is coming a day when all will bow before his sovereign authority, but the model of authority which he presents to us is one of restraint, of persuasion. God created our capacities for thinking, feeling and choosing. He influences but doesn’t short circuit or override our capacity for response, even to reject his love and rule.
Peter instructs us to lead God’s people in the same way. A domineering relationship is strictly prohibited (vs. 3) To dominate is the great temptation of human leaders. But it is the way of defeat in achieving the purposes of the congregation and also, ultimately, damaging to those relationships which would make success possible.
- Modeling ..not as being lords, but by being examples to the flock. (Vs 3). God himself models what he intends for his people to be and do. In fact, revelation is, above all else, the disclosure of God himself. Both the written revelation and the living revelation in the person of Jesus Christ are the models for our individual behavior and for church doctrine and life.
In the same way, the responsibility of the leader in Christian ministry is to set the example. The idea of making oneself an adequate model is not an instantaneous decision or experience but a continuing activity.
The chief emphasis in both 1Timothy and Titus on qualifications for spiritual leadership is the model role, not the ministry role. The leader must be an example of what a person should be and how the work of God should be done. Paul repeatedly told people to follow him, to imitate him. Would people be safe, would the church be healthy, is God honored, if all were like me? What a startling reminder of the serious nature of the modeling responsibility of leadership!
Leading an exemplary life, by itself, does not make one a leader, of course. Followers have the identical calling. Though godliness alone does not qualify a person for leadership, a breakdown in godliness disqualifies one for leadership. His role model, then, is primarily that of a Christ-like character.
- Humble …serving…”Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to you elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” The astonishing thing is that this is one of the chief characteristics of God as revealed in Jesus Christ. Remember, humility is not denying the gifting and responsibility to lead. The humble person lives out those God graced realities but does not use that position to aggrandize himself or to gain power over others.
Jesus himself is the model, “I am among you as one who serves” (Luke 22:27). And with that he took the apron and basin of the slave, telling us that we were to follow his model (John 13:1-17). Notice that Peter calls on us to take the initiative, to humble ourselves. He doesn’t tell us to pray for humility or to feel humble or to say humble things. No, the leader is to act in humility.
It’s strange that the word for servanthood, “minister,” should have come to refer to one who is many times the opposite, one who is exalted and served by others, whether a minister of state or a minister of the church. Perhaps that is evidence of where we have gone astray. The leader who follows God’s model will be among God’s people as one who serves.
- Faith Filled ….casting all your care upon him, for he cares for you… (vs7). To become, even in partial measure, all that Peter says the godly (read God-like) leader should look like, only God himself can accomplish. Faith is the key, but it must be expressed in prayer. The prayer of faith is the indispensable means of accessing the resources God provides for leaders.
How beautiful that our Model, above all others, models dependency on his Father and a life of prayer. If Jesus Christ needed to pray incessantly, how much more does the leader who would be like him!