THE SERVANT GENERAL
ON SERVANT LEADERSHIP
WATCHING OVER THE FLOCK
June 8, 2011
Today’s reading: Acts 20:28-38
task of servant leaders is not only to lead, to form, to pastor,
but also to protect and watch over the flock. The servant
leader is a shepherd, looking over God’s sheep, accountable
to the Chief Shepherd.
warns, “savage wolves will come among you, and they
will not spare the flock.” (Acts 20:29). The enemy attacks
those who threaten his dominion (these are the evangelizers),
and he tries to weaken or destroy those who oppose him. How
many in the Church have these savage wolves already devoured?
There are the unrepentant sinners, there are the nominal or
lapsed Christians, there are those who may still go through
the motions but no longer live for Christ.
there is the enemy within. “And from your own group,
men will come forward perverting the truth to draw the disciples
away after them.” (Acts 20:30). There are those Catholics
who favor the reproductive health bill, or even divorce, and
will even be at the forefront of having anti-life and anti-family
bills legalized. There are the dissidents in the Church, including
theologians, Catholic teachers, even bishops, who work to
undermine the Magisterium, even attacking the Holy Father
in the process. There are the top leaders in CFC, who veered
away, disobeyed the bishops, and attacked those who were working
for restoration to our authentic charism.
servant leaders are to keep watch “over the whole flock
of which the holy Spirit has appointed (them) overseers”
(Acts 20:28b). It is a God-appointed task. They are to be
overseers. They are to stand in the very place of God. They
are to have the same concern for the flock as Jesus did, even
to the point of giving their lives.
How do servant leaders watch over the flock?
they must know what they have been tasked to do, how important
their work is, how much God is depending on them. What is
their work? They are to “tend the church of God that
he acquired with his own blood.” (Acts 20:28c). Jesus
suffered a horrible death and shed his precious blood, so
that we might experience salvation, and be brought back into
the family of God. Once there in the Church, servant leaders
must work to keep them inside, growing and thriving. Jesus
wants no one to be lost.
Second, they must be vigilant (Acts 20:31a). They must be
wary and watchful.
must be aware of the wiles of the devil, who can even come
as an angel of light. They must know that Satan is the father
of lies, and the enemy is able to deceive many through lies,
half-truths, disinformation, etc.
must know that the enemy never rests, that the enemy is
able to exploit even the smallest dissatisfaction or hurt
or conflict among the faithful, that the enemy in fact oftentimes
causes conflict among top leaders.
must know that people need to continually grow in righteousness
and discipleship, with the ideal of God’s very own
holiness, and to not grow is to backslide.
leaders must be prayerful, asking for God’s own wisdom
and discernment in helping them watch over the flock.
Third, they must be persistent in teaching what is right and
just and true, especially in the continuing formation of servant
leaders. Paul told the presbyters, “remember that for
three years, night and day, I unceasingly admonished each
of you with tears.” (Acts 20:31b).
They must realize that the strength of the body depends
on the strength of each and every member, and especially
each and every leader. They look not only to their part
in the work, but have concern for everything and everyone
else as well. They must want leaders to succeed, and not
be in competition with them.
must not back down in the face of opposition from dissenters
or complainers. They must know what is right, and unceasingly
keep at it, “for years, night and day.”
must greatly desire the proper formation of leaders, taking
such task to heart. They must come before the Lord in humility,
acknowledging their own sinfulness and lack of power, and
beg the Lord “in tears” to help them at their
they must also keep watch over themselves (Acts 20:28a).
They must know that they are special targets of attack by
the enemy. They must not be overconfident, lest they fall.
must be leaders who are truly servants, unmindful and not
desirous of power, position, acclaim. They must not have
an personal agenda. “I have never wanted anyone’s
silver or gold or clothing.” (Acts 20:33). They must
be careful not to lord it over their subordinates, even
as they exercise authority in the Lord.
must walk in integrity of life, along the path of holiness,
looking to perfection unto the Father.
must have supportive fraternal relationships with other
Finally, after they have done all that they can through the
power of God given to them, they are to entrust the presbyters
to God, who Himself called them to serve Him. At the end of
the day, it is God’s grace and God’s blessing
that will change minds and hearts, that will build up, that
will form and transform. “And now I commend you to God
and to that gracious word of his that can build you up”
After all the teaching and formation and admonition and guidance,
servant leaders turn to God in prayer, private as well as
communal. As seniors we worship, in our households as well
as in our assemblies. We look to the Chief Shepherd, whose
work we do, and whose strength we ask for. “When he
had finished speaking he knelt down and prayed with them all.”
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