Jules Does

Jules Does Lent: Leadership and Humility

Posted on: February 22, 2016


Well, so far it’s been a bit tricky to keep my Lenten resolution of writing every day, and for that I apologise. Today’s post will also be a bit short, as I am full of cold and also knackered.

Conveniently, today’s passages are also pretty succinct. The first comes from the First Letter of Peter and is all about responsible Christian leadership. Although Peter addresses the church elders, we can all apply Peter’s guidance to any situation in our lives where we have charge over people, whether in our work or personal lives. When we put ourselves or are put in any leadership position, we are acting as reflections of the One who is the leader of all, Christ. We are therefore called to lead as He did, namely with humility and justice.

But who is Peter to be giving us advice anyway? Well, the Gospel reading for the day tells the story of how Christ made Peter the rock upon which the Church is built, an awesome responsibility indeed. Christ’s words to Peter are so important and so crucial to the Catholic understanding of the nature of the Church that they are inscribed around the inside of the dome of St Peter’s in Rome.

In this exchange, after Peter confesses that Jesus is indeed the Christ, Jesus gives Peter tremendous authority – the very keys of the Kingdom of Heaven (which is why Peter is so often depicted holding keys or sitting at the gates of heaven in jokes). He is told that whatever he binds on earth will be bound in heaven, and vice versa, a promise which we believe has a great deal to do with the absolution of sins in the Sacrament of Reconciliation (you might know it better as Confession).

And how does Peter wield this awesome power? As Christ wanted – with great humility and joy, shepherding the flock until, as promised in the first reading, the Great Shepherd comes again.

St. Peter is one of my favourite saints because he is so tremendously human. He’s not the favourite disciple, and he’s certainly far from being the most faithful. He’s grouchy and a little quick to make rash promises, but in the end he gets where he needs to be. I suppose that’s why I like taking his advice when he gives it, because I recognise so many of my own sins in his behaviour.

Leadership can be a gift from God, and a great crucible in which our faith can be tested and displayed. Peter’s advice applies to us whether we are teachers, parents, managers, spouses, priests or in pretty much any walk of life. Authority is meant to be held with joy and humility, doing our best to show through our leadership the perfect leadership of Christ our King and Shepherd.


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