Sometimes we can develop an aversion to authority because of the way we have experienced it exercised in our lives. This is a terrible tragedy as the exercise of authority by bishops in the Church is one of God’s great gifts to His Church. Without it the Church would be akin to a rudderless boat adrift on the sea. Without the guidance of its bishop, each diocese would lack the necessary direction and we pilgrims would flounder on our journey to the Kingdom of God. The teaching authority of the bishop and his pastoral care of the people are the two main roles a bishop exercises in his service of the people.

Titus and Timothy exercise this role in their respective communities of Crete and Ephesus. One of the great laments of the Old Testament (Ezek. 34:7-16) and Jesus (Mt. 9:36) is that the people of God seem to be so often “like sheep without a shepherd.” If you have ever seen sheep that do not know where to go or what to do, it is indeed a pitiful sight! Does this mean we can sit in judgement of our bishops and blame them for all our problems? Of course not! The challenge for us is to pray that our leaders in the Church, whether bishops, priests or lay people will always retain the heart of the True Shepherd, Jesus Christ.

One of the surest signs of a great leader is his or her willingness to serve those whom he or she cares for. With Jesus this meant obeying His Father’s will and dying on a cross. Nothing was too much for the Father to ask of Jesus because Jesus’ commitment to His people was total. Jesus never held anything back from us – he gave to us all that the Father had given Him to reveal to us. Jesus is the perfect example of a leader and all of us who do lead and desire to lead must pattern our lives on His if we are to be faithful to what God asks of us.

For those of us being led, let us not forget to constantly uphold our leaders in prayer that they might always serve us in accordance with the will of God.

When I lead do I seek to serve or do I like being served all the time? To what degree is my life really placed in service of the other people in my community? Whether I am a leader or not, do I always seek ways to serve others?

Lord Jesus, your heart always reached out to those in need. You never rejected anyone as a hopeless case who could not be saved. Help me to develop the heart of the True Shepherd that you have so I can truly serve especially those who need me the most.