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10 Biblical Leaders I Admire

Friday, October 20, 2006
10 Biblical Leaders I Admire

Leading off with the number one position would of course have to be the ultimate leader and Shepherd of souls[1] Our Lord Jesus Christ. We see in Christ Jesus leadership which both chastises[2] and heals[3], love which is both tender and tuff, words which bring comfort and which cut like a knife into the soul. We see a leader who inspires the leadership even in those to whom the world would not associate as potential leaders. Our Lord knows the potential for the soul. He knows that there is a time to heal and forgive and a time to chastise and condemn. We see in Jesus Christ who is the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity[4] that yes God is love and love evolves sacrifice at time. Love is also looking for the best of the individual receiving love not just allowing behavior which would lead the person—the soul into destruction. Our Lord shows us that God way of loving the soul (which we are called to emulate) for the long term benefit of the individual not just a short term gain and certainly not for a selfish motive. Love[5] is a verb alas and Christian leadership must be centered always upon love. As we are creatures and just mere images of our Divine Creator we will fall short however we must look to the ultimate example of leadership in Our Lord Jesus Christ to give us the strength and the courage to face our weaknesses and through His grace[6] overcome to become the Christian leaders He calls us to be.
The next ideal Christian leader for me was a Biblical leader who did not lead a great multitude of people yet through his prayer and example inspired a nation and subsequent generations to turn to God and away from sin and evil. I look to the prophet of God Elijah. Elijah like so many leaders had the role thrust upon him and it frightened him. Facing seemingly insurmountable odds through the grace and mercy of God he defeated the false prophets of Baal and so many others.[7] Elijah comes into town like an old western hired gun for the Lord God of Hosts[8] and once his mission is accomplished realizes the gravity of his situation and retreats to prayer to gain courage and wisdom to fight another day for Him[9]. To myself Elijah shows that the Christian leader will face times when it seems as if the entire world is out against him or her and desires their death yet we turn to The One whom we know can ‘come to our assistance’ and protect us within the shadow of His wings to struggle for the Kingdom another day. Just as Christ Our Lord turned to prayer constantly Elijah also sets the example for us that through prayer to God if we are faithful we can do all things.
St. Peter[10] is an interesting leader as in by all accounts he was not the most successful fisherman around and he denied Christ yet it was his humility along with the infinite mercy of God that he was still called by Christ to be the rock solid foundation[11] upon which Christ would build Christianity. St Peter shows me that despite our failings and even sins if we beg for mercy and forgiveness and reengage in the struggle to serve that God can accomplish anything He desires in the lives of those who are humble. Alone we are destined to fail and without Jesus Christ we have no hope of temporal success for His Kingdom much less in obtaining salvation and partaking in the Beatific Vision. Through Him and with Him we find the courage and strength to rise up to any task no matter how great. We have only to trust and remain in His love. If we count on our own abilities and become filled with pride we will fall just as St. Peter fell after Our Lord was arrested. Through Christ and in humility we find the ability to accomplish any mission He sets before. The mark of any good Christian leader is humility in recognizing where and from Whom we draw our ability and gifts.
Christian leadership more than any other type of leadership involves a great amount of trust in God and I feel that one of the Biblical leaders who demonstrated this unwavering trust is Abraham. God calls each of us as Christians and as Christian leaders to face times when we are called to do the seemingly impossible. We are called to do what He wants and we do not always know the reason why. This involves trust and faith in Divine Providence that God will provide the answers and solutions at the moment when we need it the most. Abraham demonstrated that trust when he took his son to the top of the mountain to prepare to offer him in sacrifice to God. Sacred Scripture tells us that God desires Mercy not sacrifice and the son was spared and Abraham proved his faith and trust to God but most importantly to himself and others through the generations. God knew in His infinite wisdom of the faithfulness of Abraham yet Abraham and later generations did not—a test was in order. The Christian leader and each individual Christian will face tests in life of various sorts yet we must have faith and trust in Him[12] Whom we love and serve. God knows of our ability yet we need to under go the test in order to shine more brightly for Him as the fine metal in the furnace. God can not work great things through us without our cooperation, as He will not violate our free will, if we as Christian leaders do not have faith and trust and step into the unknown with Him as Abraham did.
Within the heart of the successful Christian leader is a hunger for souls to be lead to God also known as apostolic zeal. At root in any real apostolic zeal is the recognition of our complete and total dependence on God and His Mercy despite our past sins and failings and present weaknesses. The Apostle St. Paul demonstrates this recognition of his own weakness and unworthiness and that it is only He Who dwells within that accomplishes the endeavor. Temporal leadership is based on many times our own abilities and accomplishments as I pointed out earlier yet the Christian leader must pour himself out completely to put on the mind of Christ so despite impossible weaknesses or obstacles can through Divine grace accomplish the Will of God.[13]
Some of the other Biblical leaders that I admire would be St. John the beloved for his absolute love of Christ and the purity of his heart. It is interesting that Christian tradition holds that all the apostles were martyred but one St John. He did suffer in prison and exile and was even boiled yet he was not martyred. Because of his purity and love for Christ he was spared the martyrs death. His example of the love for God should inspire Christian leaders to find refuge within the Heart of Jesus and place our heads upon His breast and draw the courage and comfort needed to lead His flock. It should also serve as an example to Christian leaders of all traditions to seek and strive after purity of heart, mind and body so that in seeing the Face of God we can better witness to His glory to a world in darkness. I would also have to say that Moses would be a favorite Biblical leader in the faith that he demonstrated so many times before during and after the Exodus. Moses too shows a great amount of zeal and a leadership style we need to emulate which is centered on prayer to God Almighty.
The next Biblical leader that I would identify as one whom I admire would be someone many may not think of –that being the foster father of Our Lord Jesus Christ, St. Joseph[14]. St. Joseph does not speak much in the Sacred Scripture yet he must have been a great leader to be entrusted by God[15] to care for the Divine Child[16] and the Mother of God[17]. I can not imagine the great faith that he had to be able to accept that this child that his betrothed wife had was from God even when sent an angelic messenger[18]. He demonstrated great trust in God though he did not know all the answers. He was given the responsibility to protect the child Jesus by fleeing into Egypt[19] and throughout His early formative years. Good parents are the best Christian leaders and St. Joseph must have been a very good father and leader to be given the call to be the foster father of Jesus Christ. St. Joseph to me also demonstrates that to the humble and the obedient God can bring about great miracles. He faced his Divinely given duty with great prudence and with an unwavering trust in the Wisdom and Providence of God. To me St. Joseph models what Christian leaders and parents should follow in an unshakable faith and obedience to the call of God regardless if we do not know the reason why –now.
I would close out my list of ten leaders with ‘The Forerunner’, St John the Baptist. St John the Baptist knew that he was just a creature called through grace for a mission and that he was unimportant compared to the One who would follow[20]. St John demonstrated the courage to leave all behind in worldly allurements for the sake of proclaiming the coming of the Messiah. St. John just like the earlier prophet Jeremiah became a pillar of brass and a wall of iron[21] to withstand the attacks of the world so as to proclaim the Day of the Lord with zeal and fervor. In a simple way he knew his mission and Whom he served and did not care about the consequences or the opinions of others. Once he had fulfilled his mission he quickly stepped down from his position as the center of attention to give glory and honor to the Lamb of God[22]. He like the other leaders mentioned was faithful to the end. Christian leaders must recognize that we at best are temporary servants entrusted to a specific mission for a specific time and The One Who called us is more important that we are. We need to pray to be obedient enough that when it is our time to hand over the reigns of leadership to others that we will do so out of love for Christ and the sake of the Gospel which we proclaim. We may not be called to survive on locust and honey[23] but we are called to reject the world and it’s entrapments for the sake of Christ and announces to the world the Salvific action of Jesus Christ regardless of the cost[24].
10 Biblical leaders each with different missions and in different times yet through love of God they changed the course of human history in many ways. If we remain faithful and love God above all else then we too can in some small way model the leadership of these ten in the mission He gives us today.
[1] Jn 10:10-15; et al.
[2] Mt 21:12-17; et al.
[3] Mt 14:34-36; et al.
[4] Gen 1:26; Mt 28:19
[5] Rom 8:39; Eph 2:4; 1 Jn 3:1; 1 Jn 3:10; 1 Jn 4:8; et al.
[6] Ps 84:12; Lk 1:28; Jn 1: 16; Rom 1:7; 1 Cor 16:23; 2 Cor 1:12; Gal 5:4; Heb 13:9; Jas 4:6; Mt 26:26-28; Mk 14: 22-24; Lk 22: 19; Jn 6; 1 Cor 10: 16; 11: 24, 27,29
[7] 1 Kings 18
[8] 1 Kings 18:39-40
[9] 1 Kings 19:3-18
[10] Jn 1:42
[11] Mt 10:2; Mt 16:18-19; Lk 22:32; Jn 21:17; Acts 21:14; Gal 1:18; Is 22:20-23
[12] Heb 2:5-18
[13] Col 1:24:29
[14] Mt 1:16; et al.
[15] Mt 1:19
[16] Is 9:5-6; Jn 1:1; Jn 8:58-59; Jn 20:28; Rev 1:8; Rev 22:13
[17] Mt 1: 20-24; Mt 27:56; Lk 1:28,38,42, 48; Lk 2:35; Acts 19:11-12; Phil 3:17; 1 Tim 2:1; Rev 5:1-8; Ps 136; et al.
[18] Lk 1:26-28; Mt 1:18-24; et al.
[19] Mt 2:19-23; et al.
[20] Jn 1:19-34
[21] Jer 1:16-19
[22] Gen 22:8; Jn 1:29, 36; Rev 5:6, 7:10, 7:15
[23] Mt 3:4-6; et al.
[24] Mt 10:26-39; Mt 16:24-28; et al.
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