When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” A second time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” And he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.” (He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.) After this he said to him, “Follow me.”
The one quality that great leaders share in common is their ability to transmit their vision to their followers. We might be able to see a destination very clearly, and we might have a very good idea of how to get there, but if we want others to come along with us, we have to be able to make them see what we see, and want it as badly as we do. Every great leader, good or bad, has been able to do this. After this, other abilities kick in, but this is the primary one.
Jesus had this quality. He was able to share his vision with his apostles — a vision of the kingdom of heaven that awaited them — and inspire them to walk towards it. When Jesus says, “Follow me,” to Peter, he wasn’t telling the apostle to come with him, he was telling him to act according to the lead and example that Jesus had set. And primary among them were his instructions to feed his flock and tend to them.
And they did. They tended to the flocks in their care, feeding them — both literally and spiritually — and their flocks grew, in strength and in numbers. The apostles never worried about people “stealing” their flocks because they ensured that they were well fed and well looked after. Besides, they understood they were only looking after them on behalf of the Lord. The flock belonged to God and, ultimately, the responsibility for them rested with him.
These are things that we need to keep in mind as well. If we feed our flocks with the word of God, breaking it down to easily digestible morsels, ensuring that it is nutritious and wholesome; and if we tend to them with love, they will stay with us. But even if they should choose to leave to graze in other pastures that they believe are greener, it shouldn’t bother us, because they don’t belong to us. Let them eat where they will. If they’re eating well, let’s be happy.
And more more thing we need to keep in mind is that we need to share the vision of Christ once we have seen it. Peter and Paul, and James and John, and Stephen and Philip, and all the rest of them caught the vision, and shared it with others, inspiring them and encouraging them to do the same. See how the church grew. If we are disciples, will will make disciples. And if we do our job right, THEY will make disciples. And the church will grow again.
God is raising new leaders during this time of testing. I believe he will make them great leaders, as he shares with them the grace and power that is contained in his word, the peace and freedom that is to be found in them. He is sharing with them his vision of the eternal life that awaits us all, and of a united body where we live and work in great harmony. He will empower them mightily with the gifts of his Holy Spirit, helping them to see and feel as he does.
Are you one of these leaders? There is an easy way to tell. When he says: “Follow me”, you follow him.