“Peter, do you love me more than these?” Jesus asked.
“Yes, Lord, you know I love you,” Peter replied.
“Then feed my lambs,” Jesus said.
Have you ever realized that Jesus was asking Peter to lead… even after Peter’s painful demonstration of cowardice and unfaithfulness? Peter, distraught with regret, regarded more heavily the question of his love for Jesus. I don’t think Peter had a clue that Jesus was making the connection between love and leadership – the resurrected man he had loved and denied was sitting in front of him alive again asking “Do you love me?” The abject humiliation and pain of Peter’s stupid mistake was still so fresh on his mind.
It’s a little known fact that successful leadership is a question of love for Jesus first and then the disciplined act of serving the people he asks you to patiently guide. Peter was an uneducated fisherman. Jesus boiled down leadership to the simplest principles. Neither man looked like much from the outside -a king raised in a carpenter’s shop in Nazareth and a powerful leader called out of a stinking fishing boat- but it goes along with the counter-cultural way every teaching of Jesus runs. Nowhere in the Bible does righteous authority involve subjugation or using people for material gain. To make it in the world, stepping on people is the only means of reaching the top; character is not a necessary component in accomplishing goals. How strange it must be to think of a leader standing in front of the gun for a soldier he commands or lovingly washing the dirty feet of his men. And yet, the greatest leader of all time did just that.
How many of us would be willing to do the same? “Not many of you should presume to be teachers/leaders, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly,” James said. When the microscope picks up discrepancies in our character, will we humbly accept the scrutiny and discipline ourselves to love and serve, arising to greater levels of leadership and growth as we follow Jesus Christ, or will we agitate under the pressure?
“…For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved. Follow me as I follow Christ.” (I Corinthians 10:33-11:1)