Saturday, December 26, 2009

Leading And Following

 1 The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed: 2 Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; 3 nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; 4 and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.   

5 Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your 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.”

 6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, 7 casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.

(1 Peter 5:1-7, New King James Version)

When it comes to authority, most of us find ourselves somewhere in the middle, with some people in authority over us and others below us in the chain of command.  For example, a man is head of his home, but is under the authority of the church, the government, and of course God.  The wife is under the leadership of the husband, but is in authority over the children, and even the child may find themselves given temporary authority over younger children.  So all of us, men, women, and children need not only to learn to have a HEART OF SUBMISSION, but we also need to learn how to lead others in a humble way that honors God.

The first group of people Peter addresses are the elders of the church, but principles of leadership he gives to them can apply to any position of authority.  They are to shepherd those under them.  A shepherd cares for his sheep and always tries to do what is best for them,  putting aside his own wants to do what will most help them survive and thrive.  So the elders, along with others in authority, are called not to lord over those they shepherd, but rather to serve humbly by setting an example.

Extending this principle to others in authority, husbands should not "lord over" their wives and children and try to "lead the home with an iron fist", but rather should shepherd their families, instruct them and guide them with gentleness and humility, and be a living example of godliness.  Mothers should likewise be doing so with their children, and teach their children to act in the same manner if they find themselves in authority.  God will be the rewarder of those who live in this way.

We also should give deference to the one in authority over us.  We should ALL willingly submit to each other with a humble heart, knowing that ultimately it is God we submit to, and knowing that it will be God who will lift us up.

Often, it is difficult to submit to authority because we fear losing something we want to keep, and it can also be difficult to take up authority because we fear losing the hearts of those we are responsible for.  However, we can cast those cares upon Jesus, anything we are concerned with we can give to Him, knowing that He loves us and wants what is best for us.

Lord, help me today to lead when I am called to and to follow when I am supposed to.  Help me to lead in gentleness and humility, and to seek Your will above all else.

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