BY: Fr. Evaristus Abu

The role of leadership in any gathering of human beings can never be over emphasized. The saying is true that “when a leader is great, the people are good, when a leader is good, the people are mediocre, when a leader is mediocre, the people are bad and when a leader is bad, the people are worse.”

In our Gospel passage, Jesus exposes the hypocrisy of the bad religious leaders of his time, telling the people to do what they preach with their lips and not follow what they practice. If as a priest, my lifestyle is contrary to what I preach, I have failed as a leader and as Malachi says, I am bringing God’s curse to myself.

No wonder, someone said that the hottest part of hell is reserved for us priests, pastors; men and women of God who know the truth yet continue to lead God’s children astray by our bad examples and commercialization of the church. Malachi says: “You have corrupted the covenant of Levi, says the Lord of hosts, and so I make you despised and abased before all the people inasmuch as you have not kept my ways but have shown partiality in your instruction.”

Although our readings today speak directly to the priests, the messages contained therein can be generally applied to leaders in every sphere of life. As a manager in a company, I am a leader. As a Father, an elder brother, a chief in my community, even as a popular youth in my area, I am a leader.

Leadership is not all about power and authority; it is not a matter of lording it over anyone, leadership is about making sacrifice for the growth and development of the people. As St. Paul puts it in our second reading, leadership is about toiling night and day like a nurse taking care of her children. It is feeding the people rather than feeding on the people.

Leadership is about parenting others and the essence of parenting is showing good example, it being a torchlight in the darkness for others. Leadership is all about doing the right thing at all times even if it is not popular anymore.

The power of a leader is not in their show of force nor in their ability to make people fear them but their ability to directly influence their thought patterns and decisions of the people positively. Leadership is living the life.

As a leader, do I influence people for good or do I operate double standards? Do I pretend to be good before my followers while I go about doing evil in secret? How long can I deceive myself assuming it is the people I am deceiving? Let us pray: Lord Jesus, work within me always to lead your people aright. Amen.

*Happy Sunday. Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. (Thirty first Sunday in Ordinary time. Year A. Bible Study: Malachi 1:14-2:2-10, 1ST Thessalonians 2:7-13 and Matthew 23:1-12).*

Fr. Abu.

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