In out last blog we compared the leadership style of a shepherd to that of a wolf. A shepherd puts the interest of the flock before his or her own. The wolf ravages the flock and leads for their own advantage rather than the care of the flock. If the leadership style of a wolf can be marked by vices such as sloth, greed, and power, the leadership style of a shepherd offers a cure for each of these maladies in the form of a virtue. Let us first look at sloth.
A Shepherd leads not by sloth or compulsion but with a willingness to lead in a way that pleases God (1 Peter 5:2). Take Moses as an example. Here was a man who gave up on leadership. After trying to tackle slavery in Egypt in his own power, it seems he had given up. He ran to Midian and contented himself with raising a family and shepherding his father-in-law’s flock. His world was turned over when God appeared to him in a bush that never burned up. He heard the Lord’s voice. He knew he was standing on holy ground. He took off his sandals. Yet, when God called him to lead his people out of slavery in Egypt, he protested, “Who am I that I should go? Who shall I say sent me? They will laugh at me. I cannot speak. I don’t have the skills.” Yet, the Lord would not let him off the hook. “Moses,” the Lord said, “Do you not know who made the tongue? Who makes the mute speak? Who gives sight to the blind?” (Exodus 3) There are many who rather not lead. They make excuses. They kick against the goads like Moses.
The Lord will not compel us, but he will not give up on us either. Moses finally answered the call. With his brother beside him, and, more importantly, the Lord over him, he became one of the greatest leaders of all time.
Gregory the Great went down in history with that name for a reason. Rome was under siege. The food supply had been cut off. People were being captured and killed. Rome was starving. There was no emperor or empress who would rise to the challenge to help the people. Up from the ashes, Gregory arose. He negotiated peace with the enemy. He imported wheat for the starving. He ransomed the captives free. Gregory wrote a book called The Pastor’s Rule. Listen to what he said. “[T]here are several who possess incredible virtues and who are exalted by great talents for training others; men who are spotless in the pursuit of charity, stout in the long-suffering of patience, erect in the fortitude of authority, tender in the grace of kindness, and strict in the severity of judgement.” But here comes the rub. “To be certain, if they refuse to accept a position of spiritual leadership when they are called, they forfeit the majority of their gifts – gifts which they received not for themselves only, but also for others. When these men contemplate their own spiritual advantages and do not consider anyone else, they lose these goods because they desire to keep them for themselves.” There are shepherd leaders whom God is calling. If they refuse, they risk losing their God-given gifts and talents.
If the vice of wolf leadership is sloth, it is countered by willingness. A shepherd leader does not lie down when the sheep need his or her leadership. A shepherd leader does not lead when it’s convenient. The shepherd leader is ready to be inconvenienced. The shepherd leads willingly,
Next blog we will look at the cure for the vice of leadership greed.