To Become a Good Leader, First Become a Good Servant

                  To Become a Good Leader, First Become a Good Servant 
Hebrews 3:1-13 
Second Sunday after New Sunday 

The Pauline Epistle for this Sunday calls us to evaluate the depth of our own faith much like Simon Peter was asked by Christ in the accompanying Gospel passage (St. John 21:15-19). 

At the beginning of the reading, we are reminded of the role of Christ both as the representative of God before man and the mediator of man before God. We also see Christ as the architect who built the Church – which is composed of us, the body of believers. It is important, when evaluating our faith, to first consider the One to Whom we are asked to remain faithful. He is God, and at the same time, He is “faithful to Him who appointed Him, as Moses also was faithful” (v. 2). St. Paul makes an interesting point when he progresses to relate the nature of the Church and Christ to be like that of a house and an architect. For some of us who may be adamantly involved in serving the Church, we can, at times, feel more devotion and more love for the institutional aspect of the Church than we do to Christ Himself. Sometimes we can become so swept away by being a part of this community, planning and attending events, seeing our friends, and singing songs that we forget the underlying reason why we ought to be doing all this. Then, perhaps, one dark day we might suddenly come to the realization that we have no depth of faith at all – and it can be shattering to realize this, just as terrifying it was to Peter when he realized he had denied his Master three times at the time of His passion. Therefore, when St. Paul makes clear that “He who built the house has more honor than the house,” (v. 3) he is reminding us that the Church is consecrated to the glory of God, and it is ultimately to God that our honor and love should be directed, because “He who built all things is God (v. 4).” 

It is interesting to note at this point the manner in which we were addressed in verse one, “holy brethren” and “partakers of the heavenly calling.” At times, we can really let titles like these go to our heads, especially so soon after witnessing the Feast of Resurrection. Perhaps we participated in Holy Confession or partook of the Holy Eucharist multiple times to the point where we just feel like holy people, living holy lives, just basking in holiness like vacationers on the beach. Yet, in verse twelve, we see that the purpose of this passage is actually to warn us to beware of unbelief and hardness of heart because achieving true holiness is no easy task. This passage reminds us that standing firm in our faith is a real struggle because sin can be attractive enough to tempt us away from God. We can even be deceived to the point where we feel like we are doing everything right in serving the Church, and yet, we can be spiritually far from God at the same time. We may think that because we were baptized, take Holy Qurbana, wear prayer ropes, or observe fasts that we can somehow be immune to sin. In fact, it is our own spiritual laziness that can create this illusion of immunity which will subsequently open the door to sin, doubt, and unfaithfulness – qualities that could effectively discredit any leader in the Church. 

To become a good leader, you must first become a good servant. Christ set an example before us by remembering and remaining faithful to The Father throughout His earthly ministry; the same example is shown to us in the Holy Apostles and Martyrs. Therefore, when we seek to become leaders in the Church, we must first be unconditionally faithful servants, so deeply in love with Christ that we are willing to give ourselves to Him completely, especially when we are tempted by the fallen world to give up. In this manner, we each have the opportunity to shine the light of Christ through the world “if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end (v. 6).” If, however, our hearts do not truly know and love the Master whom we serve, then we have good reason to beware of being “hardened through the deceitfulness of sin (v. 13).” 

May God grant us the strength to remain faithful to Him, standing firm in the face of temptation, so that we may honor and serve Him like the Holy Prophets, Apostles and Martyrs before us. Let us learn to serve our Father and remember Him in all that we do just as Christ demonstrated to us through His passion. Let us continue to fight against the demons and temptations around us and not become complacent in our faith

Questions for Reflection: 

1. Reflect on the corresponding General Epistle reading for this week: Acts 4:8-21. How does this passage relate to the theme of remaining an unconditionally faithful servant to Christ? 

2. Reflect on the corresponding Gospel reading for this week: St. John 21:15-19. How deep is your faith and love of God? Can you confess to loving him with sacrificial and self-emptying love, or do you only feel brotherly affection towards Him? (See the Orthodox Study Bible footnote at 21:15-17).