• The fisherman’s theory of leadership
Continued from last week
Having perused some of the qualities of a leader and the words of Jesus who is the perfect leader (cf. Jn 13:13), let us now venture into the community of the apostles as their quest for position and authority gave birth to the theme, CAN YOU DRINK THE CUP THAT I MUST DRINK? In the words ascribed to Pope Benedict XVI in his book Jesus, The Apostles, And The Early Church, he said: …Through the Apostles, we come to Jesus Himself. The Church begins to establish himself when some fishermen of Galilee meet Jesus , allowing themselves to be won over by his gaze, his voice, his warm and strong invitation: ‘follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men’ (Mk 1:7; Mt 4:19) (Page 7). Let it be made clear that leadership in the above context is first and foremost an invitation, then a responsibility. This is why the quote began with “Through the Apostles, we come to Jesus himself”, meaning that the Apostles are meant to LEAD the Church towards JESUS CHRIST.
It is only in this sense that they can understand their role as “fishers of men”, and not one who sits and orders others to go fishing for them. Any leader who fails to understand this perspective of the fisherman’s theory will be acting contrary to the mind of Jesus Christ who is a perfect leader. But did the disciples themselves understand the invitation and responsibility being prepared for them? May be they did, maybe they did not. However, their requests seem to give the impression that their idea of position and power may not exactly be the same with Jesus Christ. One can sense an individualistic understanding of the message of Christ in their quest as the brothers, James and John, either directly or indirectly to ask Jesus for seats at His right and left in His Kingdom. Therefore, one may not be wrong to say while Jesus was building a kingdom for the entire people of God, some were busy taking positions even before they were allowed.
Brethren, perhaps before we begin to condemn the requests of these Apostles (James and John), it is important to note that modern perspective of Christianity and interpretation of biblical doctrines seem to toe the path of individualism rather than communalism. Again, quoting Pope Benedict XVI: …where the work of Jesus is situated in all its novelty, it is clear that the entire mission of the Son-made-flesh has a communitarian finality. He truly came to unite dispersed humanity; He truly came to unite the people of God (pages 8-9). Consequently, it may not be out of order to see the apparent multiplication of Churches today as the direct implication of individualism as against communalism for which Jesus prayed when He said, “that they may be one” (Jn. 17:21ff).
Similarly, there is need for the Christian leaders to look beyond individual interests, if the good of the body of Christ is a priority. Moreover, the scenario that necessitated the question of Jesus to His Apostles was one of the total deviation from the plan of salvation which at the time pre-occupied the mind of Jesus. While Jesus was telling them how the Son of man will suffer and die in the hands of the elders , the Apostles were busy contemplating how close they needed to be, near the source of power (cf. Mk. 10:26FF).
To be continued next week.
• Most Rev. (Dr.) Alfred Adewale Martins, Archbishop of the Metropolitan See of Lagos.