At least as far as vehicles go, I’m not too great at “climbing the ladder.” I drive a 1980’s German car with some rust, a few smells, and surprising power. Recently, I discovered how to rig my phone to the stereo without starting an electrical fire so I can listen to God’s Word with the YouVersion Bible App on my way to work. Some mornings ago, I was listening to the Message version of 1 Peter 5:1-7. It’s too good to not just paste all of it below. It’s like Peter, the Apostle who started the Christian church, was writing to leaders in the church today.
I have a special concern for you church leaders. I know what it’s like to be a leader, in on Christ’s sufferings as well as the coming glory. Here’s my concern: that you care for God’s flock with all the diligence of a shepherd. Not because you have to, but because you want to please God. Not calculating what you can get out of it, but acting spontaneously. Not bossily telling others what to do, but tenderly showing them the way. When God, who is the best shepherd of all, comes out in the open with his rule, he’ll see that you’ve done it right and commend you lavishly. And you who are younger must follow your leaders. But all of you, leaders and followers alike, are to be down to earth with each other, for—God has had it with the proud, But takes delight in just plain people. So be content with who you are, and don’t put on airs. God’s strong hand is on you; he’ll promote you at the right time. Live carefree before God; he is most careful with you. 1 Peter 5:1-7 MSG
Like Craig would say, that’s good preaching. As I drove, this passage got me thinking about my own leadership. Am I a leader who spontaneously and tenderly shows people the way because I want to please God? Or, am I trying to climb some kind of ladder to someplace where I get respect and attention? Then, while paying attention to the road (and the temperature of my oil) I had another thought. Hopefully it was inspired by the Holy Spirit and not gasoline fumes. Leaders turn ladders into bridges.
Think about it. When we try to “climb the ladder,” we may find ourselves looking up at a ladder that will take sacrifice, inward drive, and often relational compromise to climb. We may one day find ourselves at the top of it looking down at those we’ve climbed above. But, when we seek to serve others, without promotion or self-advancement as our goal, we turn that ladder into a bridge we can walk across to the goals and passions God has put into our lives.
When we do this, our lives point to Jesus. When we take up His cross and lay down our ladder, we invite the people around us to do the same. Ladders are for solo climbers. Bridges are for fellow travelers. In the end, when we look around we may not have climbed as high, but we’ve walked with a crowd of witnesses. Leaders, let’s choose to make our ladders horizontal. It’s how we make Jesus visible and free our hands to carry His cross vertically.
As a LifeGroup leader, parent, mentor, employee, or friend, how can you lay down your ladder?
Want more biblical thoughts on leadership? Check out the Craig Groeschel Leadership Podcast.