Our country has just completed another election season, and our
country, state and municipal leaders have been voted into office.
As citizens, we hope that these newly elected leaders will recognize
their responsibilities to the good of the whole as they prepare
to begin their new terms of governance.
Today’s readings offer some sound advice to each of us, whether
we are leaders in our state, country, city, church, place of business
or in our homes.
Paul charges Titus in the first reading to assist the people of
Crete by appointing presbyters for each town. As God’s stewards,
these ministers are to be, “…blameless, not arrogant
or irritable, not aggressive or greedy…but hospitable, a lover
of goodness, temperate, just, holy and self-controlled…so
that they’ll be able to encourage the faithful to follow sound
doctrine, and to refute those who contradict it.”
In Luke’s gospel, Jesus instructs his disciples to avoid becoming
a stumbling block (a reference to the Pharisees’ greed and
pomposity, earlier in Luke) to those they lead, and to repeatedly
forgive those who repent. The Apostles responded to Jesus instructions
with, “Increase our faith.” Perhaps the followers
of Jesus realized how difficult it is to be in a leadership position
and are asking for greater faith that they may lead well.
When faced with responsibilities that seem to challenge our capabilities,
patience, or sense of self, there may be a temptation to follow
our own agendas, to muster through the situation, hoping that we
aren’t botching things too badly, and praying for a belief
in ourselves so that we can do what our position calls us to do.
It is in such circumstances that I tend to try to ‘pull out
all the stops’, seeking whatever wisdom, abilities and insights
I have to meet the challenge. This may be well and good, as far
as it goes. However, what I sometimes forget is that I’m not
in this challenge alone. In fact, it is really with God’s
help and presence that I can really meet the challenge in a grace-filled
and holy (wholesome) way, because it is then that I realize that
it’s NOT about me and that I’m not alone. Perhaps this
is what the apostles request of, “Increase our faith,”
really meant. They knew they needed help to carry out the commission
which Jesus was giving to them.
The psalmist certainly has the right attitude: “The earth
and its fullness, the world and those who dwell in it belong to
God.” We belong to God…and God is with us…so
we are not alone. As God’s stewards (and co-creators/life-givers)
in whatever areas of responsibility we find ourselves, we have God’s
loving embrace and presence to guide us in our day to day struggles
and challenges. We don’t have to go it alone…God is
right there with us, helping us to be the good stewards, leaders,
and companions to those in our care.
As we move past the elections, let us pray for one another and for
our newly elected leaders that we may keep in mind that we ALL are
stewards in God’s creation, and that we are called to work
for the good of the whole together, and open to the Spirit’s
ongoing guidance in our day to day endeavors.