1 To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ’s sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed:
This week at our church’s “Camp in the Valley” (a sports camp for kids.) The boys and girls raised close to $400 for a group called “Be Joyful.” (www.bejoyfulinhope.org) Their ministry is to orphans in the Ukraine, providing summer camps and also flying several of them to Alabama for 6 weeks… to live with the couple that founded the ministry.
They do this to allow them to experience what living in a home feels like… and also to provide them with something they most need in their situation: Hope.
In today’s verse, Peter presents a third characteristic of a being a good shepherd. He is a “fellow elder.” This puts him in a position of humble service. He is “a witness of Christ’s sufferings.” This puts him in a position of authority as an apostle of Jesus Christ. And now he adds: “and one who will also share in the glory to be revealed.” This puts him in the position of encourager. He is a projector of hope.
For leaders can sometimes be humble and authoritative and yet be… downright uninspiring. An effective leader has to communicate hope. William Willimon says it well: ‘People are ripe for a voice that gives them something significant worth living and dying for.’
Staff member Rick Marshall recalls the spring of 1991 in Edinburgh, Scotland. Billy [Graham] had been visiting with dignitaries, and Marshall came to escort him to preach. He found him completely exhausted. “Dr. Graham, it is time to take the stage,” Marshall said.
“I can’t do it. I’m so tired.”
Marshall looked for a smile, thinking he was kidding. He wasn’t—he was physically spent.
The young associate sat down beside him and they prayed together. Marshall, who, as crusade director was in charge of the meetings, felt desperate. This mission is finished before it begins, he thought.
Somehow, Billy got to his feet and slowly made his way to the stage. Yet when he took the pulpit, Marshall recalls, “I could not believe the strength of the man’s voice and the ability God gave him that evening.”
Marshall remembered: “Much of that amazing resiliency is due to his choice of scripts and his determination to lead with optimism and hope.”
Does that mean we can never get discouraged? No. It means we never give in to despair. We need to remember the message of hope we are to embody. If we are moping about and we are in a position of leadership… we need to take a second look at where we are leading people.
Peter writes here to a group of discouraged, persecuted believers that are experiencing intense suffering. And yet this letter is among the most encouraging in the NT. Peter, who was heading for martyrdom himself, says: we may share suffering now, but we will one day share glory.
Good leaders focus on the positives of what will be. We may feel boxed in… having few windows to let the light in. But good leaders know how to project hope on the walls.