THE SERVANT GENERAL
ON SERVANT LEADERSHIP
SPIRITUAL WARFARE AND SUFFERING
Today’s reading: 1 Peter 5:5-14
Peter gives important advice to the community, after giving
advice to the elders, the presbyters. What Peter says in the
passage today is for all the flock, but especially to those
who care for the flock, who are today’s servant leaders.
Authentic servant leaders face two basic realities: one, they
engage in spiritual warfare, and two, they will undergo suffering.
servant leaders engage in spiritual warfare
and thus are assaulted by the enemy. This is because they
lead in offense and defense. They lead the assault on the
kingdom of darkness, and they protect and care for the flock
of God. The enemy will thus seek to bring them down in order
to bring down God’s people. “Your opponent the
devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone
to devour.” (v.8b).
this dangerous situation for God’s people, what is the
servant leader to do? First, he (and of course everyone else)
is to “be sober and vigilant.” (v.8a). He must
keep an eye on the flock. He must be watchful. He must be
proactive and not just reactive. Second, the servant leader
is to actively resist the encroachments of the enemy. “Resist
the enemy will assault authentic servant leaders, they will
inevitably undergo suffering. But
suffering, as with the suffering of Jesus, can and often will
redound to the good. It is part of God’s plan. It is
a manifestation of the authentic gospel, which is that of
what is the authentic servant leader’s proper posture?
First, in the midst of suffering, he is to remain “steadfast
in faith” (v.9b). Many servants and leaders give in
or give up when great suffering comes. On the contrary, the
authentic servant leader endures and perseveres, and even
rejoices for the privilege of suffering a bit of what his
Master suffered. Since the authentic gospel is that of the
cross, the servant leader perseveres, “knowing that
(his) fellow believers throughout the world undergo the same
sufferings.” (v.8c). Only for authentic servant leaders,
the suffering is more intense.
the authentic servant leader can persevere through suffering
because he knows that God will sustain him, and in the end,
he will enter into eternal glory. “The God of all grace
who called you to his eternal glory through Christ Jesus will
himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you after
you have suffered a little.” (v.10). God’s grace
is more than enough for him. He keeps his eyes on the prize,
the eternal crown of glory. He rests in God’s merciful
care. “Cast all your worries upon him because he cares
for you.” (v.7).
aside from many other blessings it brings to a person, especially
a servant leader, provides the added benefit of keeping the
servant leader humble. One great danger for a servant leader
is pride, which happens when he looks more to being a leader
than being a servant. So suffering reminds him of his weakness,
of his failings, of being nothing apart from the grace and
mercy of God, of never hoping to defeat the enemy apart from
the power of the Holy Spirit. When he is humble, when he has
been brought low, that is when God can truly use him. “And
all of you, clothe yourselves with humility in your dealings
with one another, for: ‘God opposes the proud but bestows
favor on the humble.’ So humble yourselves under the
mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.”
note for the brethren under a servant leader and to those
leaders of “lesser rank” under “upper”
leaders: “you younger members, be subject to the presbyters.”
(v.5a). To make things work, for unity and peace in the body,
for effective evangelization, the elders must be respected
and submitted to. There must be obedience and not dissent
or even rebellion.
all the above, everyone, especially the servant leaders, should
always look to THE Servant Leader, who is Jesus. “To
him be dominion forever. Amen.” (v.11).
to all of you who are in Christ.” (v.14b).
Even as all, including elders, are sinners and might oftentimes
fall short. There are community ways of handling leaders who
no longer act in accordance with God’s designs.
 There can be disagreements, even with one over you, but
these are to be handled with respect and fraternal love, in
accordance with community order.