Go to any bookstore or search eBook collections and you’ll discover that there is no shortage of books on the topic of leadership. So you would think that humanity has this leadership stuff figured out. The qualities of great leadership are obvious to each of us when we see it on display, for sure. True leadership is decisive and unwavering. True leadership is strength showing no weakness. Charisma? Absolutely! Yet, when looking at the leadership of this world the headlines show what is deceptive, abuse of power, intimidation, grift, scandal, spin and rallies among adoring followers. Jesus shows a different understanding of leadership for those called to be leaders for his church. The world could learn a thing or two and much more.
The Gospel of John gives us a glimpse of life with the disciples shortly after the resurrection. Peter decided that he was going fishing and several other disciples joined him. They toiled all night but their nets were empty. Jesus on the shoreline told them to fish on the other side of the boat and the nets were so full they couldn’t pull them into the boat. Now, the disciples knew all about fishing. Jesus’ advise for them to try the other side wasn’t about their ignorance regarding fishing. The disciples were only successful when they listened and obeyed Jesus. Yes, we have lots of books about leadership. However leadership in the church is defined by listening and obeying Jesus. The world should again take notice.
The disciples dragged the nets full of fish to the shoreline where Jesus fed them breakfast. Then Jesus confronted Peter. During Jesus’ trial, three times Peter denied knowing and having any association with Jesus. Here Jesus asked Peter if he loved him for each of these three. This had to be agonizing for Peter to be confronted by what he had done. Yet for each declaration of love for Jesus, Peter was given three instructions: feed my lambs, tend my sheep and feed my sheep. Jesus placed Peter into the position of leadership but it wasn’t about being a star with celebrity status or hanging out with the politically powerful to bask in their glory. The role of leadership Jesus gave to Peter was to care for the well being of those entrusted to him.
The reading ends with Jesus telling Peter that one day his hands would be bound with him being led to a place he didn’t want to go. This was a way of telling Peter that he would not have a peaceful death but a violent one. This would be a consequence of the leadership given to him.
Yes, we have lots of books available to read on the topic of leadership but I think it would be safe to say that few envision a leadership dedicated to the caring for the well being of others and being willing to go where we don’t want to be. So lets take a moment to dream. Lets imagine a world where leaders tended solely to the needs of the people and had the courage to go where they didn’t want to be. The world would be a different place. Actually, it would begin to be a reflection of the Kingdom of God.