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Day 6: Leadership Failures and Deceit

Day 6 of the Great 50 Days: Leadership Failures and Deceit

Adapted from Luke 22:56-62. Dearest Jesus, The book of Acts tells us quickly about the replacing Judas. But before we blame him entirely, we must remember Peter. When a servant-girl recognized him in the firelight, and announced, “This man also was with Jesus,” Peter denied it, saying, “Woman, I do not know him.” A little later someone else said, “You also are one of them.” But Peter replied, “Man, I am not!” Then about an hour later still another kept insisting, “Surely this man also was with him; for he is a Galilean.” But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about!” At that moment, while he was still speaking, the cock crowed. The Lord turned and looked at Peter. Help us to remember Your “Church meets no failure in the world that it does not encounter in itself—even among those who founded and led the very first congregation.”[1] Amen.

Willimon reminds us that Judas is replaced immediately in The Acts of the Apostles, and Peter, the rock on whom Jesus built the church, was quick to deny and desert Jesus before the crucifixion. So both apostles were not flawless. Willimon warns that the church has “no cause for conceit.” I think this is important for us to internalize. We are not following the innately virtuous; we are NOT called to emulate Paul, or Peter: we are seeking to follow Jesus.

As we pray and act in this world we need to remember that the earthly leaders Jesus empowers will always be “imperfect.” Only Jesus is perfect. I remember working with a pastor’s wife and failing to complete a task correctly. As I got more and more frustrated, she said, “You have gotten it about 90% right, only Jesus does thing perfectly every time.” We laughed, but her words still ring in my ears.

The church, or the community of faith that Jesus formed, is not a perfect human organization. Any perfection comes from God through us—not through our own human power. Willimon says the “church meets no human failure or deceit in the world that it has not encountered in itself—even among those who founded and led the first congregation.” (Willimon, Acts, p. 25) Saul, before he became Paul, persecuted Christians. Peter, who had a big ego problem, needed divine correction. We must acknowledge a propensity toward our own human arrogance.

My questions today are the following:

  1. Knowing perfection is impossible, which modern leaders (women and men) in the church today do you feel are more open to discovering Jesus’s way?

  2. What have they taught you that you would like to share?

Prayer Recap: Dear Jesus, keep us humble enough to live in a community of faith that has little scorn for those with whom we are estranged or disagree. Amen.

[1] Willimon, Acts, 1988, p. 25.

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