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  • Writer's pictureElpidio Pezzella

Being a Leader

"... looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."

(Hebrews 12:2 NKJV)

For a good start, it is always appropriate to look to Jesus, still the best example of a "leader" in all of human history and to whom all scholars continue to look, testifying that He remains the perfect example, the Master par excellence. The task of a leader is to prepare people for service, to teach them the path to wholeness by setting an example with their own lives. A wise guide will prepare others to do what he himself already does. You cannot teach what you do not know, but only what is within your own competence can be taken out of your background and transferred to others. This has a major impact on a disciple. It is good to tend to this so that we do not find ourselves having to spend time on lesser things that are likely to keep us from fulfilling our calling.

Matthew's gospel reverses Luke's order, "Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men" (Matthew 4:19). It makes us understand how He urges us to follow Him by the path He has already laid out, assuring us that He would make us fishers of men. Following Christ is not about satisfying a moment's desire, but allowing Him to train us to the rank of "fishers of men". Jesus challenges us to follow Him not to give us a fish, but to make us able to fish ourselves. Fishing is an activity that takes place outdoors. It is not possible to make disciples in an enclosed place such as a place of worship may be. General and theoretical outlines can be learned here, but the school of discipleship is the street among the people. The world where He has placed us is the gymnasium where we measure whether we are disciples as He wants us to be. Techniques are not needed as far as the Spirit is concerned, but directions and suggestions for placing ourselves in the following of Christ.

As a trainer, there are four steps I suggest the aspirant on duty take. First, he must trust and rely on himself as he carries out what I intend to teach him to do by watching how I do it. The second step is to do it together, which is to collaborate. We work side by side so that some of it I do, some of it he does. The third, then, is to progressively let him do it while I stay and watch. Finally, I slowly withdraw by letting him do it on his own, and then periodically have feedback with him. In summary:

1. Trust;

2. Collaborating together;

3. Delegating;

4. Promoting autonomy and confrontation.

It is evident in this process how careful training is not so much taught, but transferred, almost decanted. Training consists of two aspects: teaching and learning. One must be sure to implement both. Those who train must keep in mind that they are teaching specific notions that will be relevant to the ministry the learners will go on to perform over time. Whatever responsibility will be assigned, preparatory work will always be needed, as well as, I would not disdain, a probationary period, to protect the recipients as well. The Pauline admonition in the directions for the selection and appointment of deacons has wide horizons: "But let these also first be tested; then let them serve as deacons, being found blameless" (1 Timothy 3:10). The mistake to be avoided at all costs is to leave the aspirant to personal initiative, sometimes the child of the desire to be noticed and tried. It would probably be more profitable to bring him in as an observer, placing him side by side, for a season, with a teacher of longer standing, from whom he can learn the rudiments of technique and have him as a reference with whom he can constantly compare himself, having him for reference.

It is important to teach each disciple how to administer the assigned task, the task given, by providing a clear description of the task at hand; writing down the specifics of the assignment; making sure they are present and involved enough to have a sense of what they are doing and how they are doing it. If those who are to learn feel this confidence, they will be at your side ready to serve under any circumstances. We are aware that preparing "fishermen" will require some extra work. Indeed, it is necessary to foresee what the responsibilities will be and to create training scenarios. Another mistake that must not be made is to leave a "guide" free to act, to meet expectations that have not been fully defined. The result will be shadows of ambiguity that, if not cleared, will result in frustration, with the consequence that one party will be "burned" or even "burned" to the point of giving up. Before giving an assignment, make sure you have been clear about expectations, which should always be specified.


If this topic is to your liking, get ready to welcome my next book devoted to biblical leadership, "I Will Make You Fishers of Men". In fact, what you read is an excerpt from the preface.


Weekly Bible Reading

Plan #10

February 27, Numbers 15-16; Mark 6:1-29

February 28, Numbers 17-19; Mark 6:30-56

March 01, Numbers 20-22; Mark 7:1-13

March 02, Numbers 23-25; Mark 7:14-37

March 03, Numbers 26-28; Mark 8

March 04, Numbers 29-31; Mark 9:1-29

March 05, Numbers 32-34; Mark 9:30-50

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