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In my weekly devotional reading, I read this story found in Luke 12 of Jesus' address to His disciples and the crowd listening. Peter got a bit confused and asked for clarification when he heard the message: “Lord, are you telling this parable to us, or to everyone?” (Luke 12:41). Jesus gave this response:
The Lord answered, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom the master puts in charge of his servants to give them their food allowance at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whom the master finds doing so when he returns. Truly I tell you, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. But suppose the servant says to himself, ‘My master is taking a long time in coming,’ and he then begins to beat the other servants, both men and women, and to eat and drink and get drunk. The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers" (Luke 12:42-46).
I had never viewed Jesus' response as a directive to leadership, but yesterday I considered it from that point of view. Here is what I learned.
- Leaders are servants first and must maintain that attitude and perspective.
- Leaders are stewards of opportunities to care for the other servants who belong to the Master, not the servant leaders.
- Power if intoxicating, for once the servant leader has been given power by the Master, the leader must be careful to use it wisely and properly.
- Abuse of leadership power stems from wrong thinking. When this servant thought, "I can misbehave because I've got time before my Master requires me to give an account," he began to abuse those under his care.
- God will hold His leaders accountable and since God is the source of all promotions to leadership, in and out of the church, He expects all leaders to follow His directives for attitude and behavior.
- All leadership comes to an end and then, and only then, will they receive their rewards and punishments.
Peter heard what Jesus was saying, that the parable was specifically directed toward him but anyone listening could "join in" and benefit from Jesus' lesson. Peter later wrote,
Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away (1 Peter 5:2-4).
If you are a leader, are you serving and caring for those under your care? If you are not yet a leader, now is the time to develop a leadership philosophy that incorporates service and accountability. Once you get the leadership power, it is so "heady" that you can begin to think you earn or deserve that power and start to abuse it. The time to decide what kind of leader you want to be is before you get the money, power, or prestige that can come with position. If you are already a leader, how are you handling yourself with your power? Are you using it to build others up or to build yourself up? Whether you're leading now or not, it is important to remember that God is watching and you ultimately answer to Him for what you did or didn't do with your opportunity to lead.
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