Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Servant Leadership

This past Sunday, my church underwent a change in leadership. Our pastor of 27 years retired, and the new Senior Pastor was installed. The outgoing pastor brought a message exhorting the new pastor in his duties, based on 1 Peter 5:1 - 4. The text says
1 So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: 2 shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight,not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you;not for shameful gain, but eagerly; 3 not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. 4 And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. (ESV)
As I was reading the study notes on these verses, it occurred to me that not only does this scripture apply to  pastors (the meaning of 'elders' as used in this context), but it also applies to anyone in a servant leadership role. Throughout the rest of this post, I'll be referring to leaders instead of pastors.

The study notes in my bible indicate the versus 2 - 4 are an exhortation to leaders. In this exhortation, Peter calls out 3 warnings for leaders. In vs. 2, he says that leaders serve "not under compulsion, but willingly." Leaders should not be lazy in their tasks. They should not have to be forced to do anything, but they should willingly be doing the work to which they are called.

His second warning is also found in vs 2. Leaders should not be working "for shameful gain, but eagerly." There is nothing wrong with being well compensated for your work. However, that should not be your primary motivation. If you're just in it for the money, then you are not exhibiting true servant leadership, and your ministry will be hindered. Another aspect of this is shams and charlatans, those who are using their position of influence to unduly take property and possessions from others. For me, this brings to mind the worst excesses of the televangelists, and the scandals surrounding numerous ministries there.

Finally, Peter brings his final warning in vs 3, that leaders should not be domineering. Abusing your position to get control of a situation or person is not effective leadership. If you have to dishonestly manipulate your followers, you are not being an effective leader.

Why should servant leaders care about their leadership style? Why should they guard against these three temptations? Peter gives us the good news in vs. 4.
And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.
This primarily applies to pastors, who have been given stewardship over a portion of God's flock here on earth. Yet the Bible tells us frequently that our rewards are stored up in Heaven, that our eternal treasures are not here on earth. We are to be rewarded at the Judgement Seat of Christ.

How are being a leader wherever God has put you?

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