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Terry Storch Dispatch w.25.2020
“Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become. No single instance will transform your beliefs, but as the votes build up, so does the evidence of your identity. This is why habits are crucial. They cast repeated votes for being a certain type of person.” - James Clear
This content was taken from my public journal last week as I was writing about 1 Peter.
Leadership. A word that seems to have a lot of definitions and brings a lot of different thoughts to our minds. Last night, Robin and I finished watching an ESPN special on Lance Armstrong. Most will recognize his name and will have a bit of context of his story. Without a doubt, he has to be one of the most gifted leaders and talented athletes the world has ever seen. The problem, however, is that much of his life and career was built on a lie and deception around the use of performance-enhancing drugs. Lance leveraged his almost perfect physical fitness to dominate his teammates and the sport itself, and we saw it all come crashing down as his seven Tour de France victories were stripped from him.
The story and life of Lance Armstrong looks a lot like many leaders we see in the world today. As we watched the ESPN series, we talked about some current world leaders he reminded us of. But what jumps out to me is that we use the words leader and leadership when we see people like Lance or other impressive people, yet it doesn’t line up with what the Bible describes as great leadership. I watched the series, and saw all that he was able to accomplish, what he was able to create with the Livestrong Foundation, and how he completely changed an industry and sport. But, all of this was done and accomplished leaving a great wake of destruction. It is without argument that he changed and saved a lot of lives as a cancer survivor and with his creation of Livestrong. But at the same time, we see the lives that he destroyed and wrecked to fulfill his desires and selfish ambition.
So, I’m sitting here just processing the word leadership and wrestling with the reality of how the world views it’s leaders. If I am candid with you, I watch Lance and see all that he accomplished, and part of me says, “I get it.” This is a thought I’m not proud of. As horrific as I know that makes me look, I can see how that story plays out because I’m a highly competitive man who’s very driven and ambitious. My guess is that Lance is an Enneagram 8 with a lot of 3 characteristics, like me. If I place myself in his story, and remove my Christ-centered life and some of the guardrails that I have set up for myself, I can say without a doubt, I could and more than likely would, be able to follow the path he chose. Now, I don’t have anywhere close to the talent he was blessed with — I’m not saying that. But I am saying that I can see the unfettered, destructive collision course my life could take without the rudder that Jesus has brought to me.
This extended opening and rambling of thought takes me to 1 Peter 5. I believe that the core of this chapter addresses everything that I’m feeling, processing, and wrestling with around worldly vs. Godly leadership. Peter addresses this to the exiled Elders of the churches and to the leaders of the Ministries in the Roman provinces.
“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.” - 1 Peter 5:2-3 NIV
We can breeze right by the word shepherd, but if we do, that would be an injustice to this text and the deeper meaning behind what Peter is sharing with us. Let’s take a step back and see what Jesus poured into Simon Peter's life.
“When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.” - John 21:15-17 NIV
I really liked what I read in a commentary about this:
Shepherd the flock of God: protecting, guiding, nurturing, and caring for the sheep. The most important “tool” to shepherd the flock of God is a heart like the heart of Jesus, one that is willing to give one’s life for the sheep, and who genuinely cares about and is interested in them (John 10:11-14).
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—” - John 10:11-14 NIV
I can’t help but take a moment and reflect on Lance, and what we can look at and glorify in worldly leadership. Nothing in Lance’s life looked like being a good shepherd. I see aspects in worldly leadership that takes the opposite approach — the approach of taking care of one’s self and putting oneself above others. But, a shepherd is all about service and laying down his life for others.
“In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” - 1 Peter 5:5 NIV
Peter again hammers on submission. He hits this earlier in the letter to the saints to submit to the government, wives and husbands, slaves and masters, and now young to old. Submission is an act of honor! Godly leaders honor those around them, build others up, and humble themselves before those they lead.
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” - 1 Peter 5:6-7 NIV
This submission connects us back to the authority that we sit under, which is God. Leaders, we must walk and live humbly, and acknowledge that this posture is what God uses to lift us up in due time.
Humility isn’t weakness, and we have to recognize that. Caring, loving, and protecting is not insignificant, and we need to change our mindset if we struggle with seeing the shepherd as weak. There is noble valor that I see with the role of a shepherd, and it looks very different than Lance Armstrong. My heart is not to sound judgmental towards Lance. I recognize that we all fall short of the glory of God, and I know that deep inside of me there are still many areas of pride and selfish ambition that need to be purified and need God’s correction. I am far from perfect. But we can learn from Lance’s actions before they become our own.
I believe we’ve all been called into leadership and should fully occupy the God-given space we have been blessed with. We must incorporate this servant and shepherd-like leadership into our lives. We must see the difference in the glorified worldly direction that leads to domination and destruction. It hurts the lives of others and ultimately, the heart of God. Let’s allow this closing prayer and message of encouragement to take us into the day.
“And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power forever and ever. Amen.” - 1 Peter 5:10-11 NIV
Lord God, may we honor you with our leadership and our lives.
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