By Howard Rich
When I think about the ups and downs, the successes and the failures of my life, I sometimes think of the Apostle Peter. He was one of the inner circle, witnessed the transfiguration, professed Jesus as Christ, and walked on water with the King. Those were some of his better moments, which were followed by some profound failures, like being overcome by fear as he walked with Jesus on the sea and cowardly denying his friend and Lord.
Jesus has an amazing way of teaching us the lessons we need to learn. It was near a fire the night of Jesus’ arrest that Peter denied his association with the Master, yet after the resurrection, as the disciples gathered around a fire preparing to eat with the risen Lord, Jesus restored Peter and directed him to shepherd His people (John 21:15-17). Surely, Peter would have remembered where he was, warming his hands around a fire, when Jesus was standing alone before His accusers.
Jesus first called Peter from his occupation as a fisherman. After the resurrection, Jesus commissioned Peter, near a fire after a great catch of fish, and He directed Peter to care for His people, to tend to them as a shepherd would for sheep. Shepherding is leadership, stewardship over what God has entrusted to our care.
I cannot imagine how embarrassed, ashamed, and humiliated Peter was following his denial of Christ, standing around that fire as Jesus was facing His accusers. What I do know is that there are times when no amount of work, words, or comfort can make my failures right. The only restoration that can make it right has to come from Jesus, and it has to come in His time.
Numbers 23:19 makes it clear that God is not like man; God does not lie and He will accomplish what His words say He will accomplish. His words are irrevocable and true. Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 1:26 to contemplate our calling. Men are not called because of their wisdom, their talents, or their status and stature. God calls out of His strength and provision.
Paul points to the believer’s responsibility to steward his call in Ephesians 4:1, as he motivates us “to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called.” However, when leaders fail, we often question that calling; we question whether we should be in that position at all.
If God has called you to leadership, if He has placed you in a position of authority to steward His resources, then you can trust that He is not like man, and His words are true. He did not lie, and He did not make a mistake. Our responsibility to “walk in a manner worthy of the calling” still remains; when we fail, as Peter most assuredly did, we must confess, repent, give restitution if needed, and wait upon God to restore.
Pray: If you need that restoration from God, ask Him and wait to see what He does.
Be sure to register for the Academic Experience for The Outcomes Conference – CLA Dallas 2015 so you can be part of the Intensive Training Institute on April 14. If you want to go deeper into the meaning of Steward Leadership, be sure to sign up for ITI 11. Set Free to Lead: Exploring Four Components of Leadership from the Perspective of Freedom. This 5.5 hour session is being led by Kent Wilson and R. Scott Rodin. You won’t want to miss it!