Peter, the apostle, - fisher of men, a leader of the apostles, friend and follower of Jesus… Peter was a great man with many human inadequacies and fears. These “human conditions” help us relate to Peter as a person. We consider Peter a man of greatness, a leader who went on to build the Christian church.
As Jesus began his journey to the cross, Peter – his trusted friend and apostle, denied Jesus three times. Jesus had loved Peter, taught him, encouraged him… Peter was a devoted follower of Christ. When Christ predicted Peter’s denial, Peter believed there was no way he would ever do such a thing. Yet, Peter DID deny our Lord.
How could Peter do this to his friend? He was one of Jesus’ closest disciples, and a leader of the apostles. Yet, Peter denied Christ not once, but three times. How then could God allow Peter to continue to serve Him and continue to be a leader for Christians?
Jesus shows us once again the workings of a true leader. Jesus knew Peter’s heart. That is why Christ selected Peter as one of His disciples in the first place. Jesus looked past what Peter had done. He saw what was in Peter’s heart. Though Peter had denied Jesus, Peter was still loved by Christ and important to God’s work on earth. Christ did not give up on Peter even though Peter denied he ever knew Jesus.
Could you forgive someone who denied you or betrayed you or worked against you? Could you look past what this person had done and give him/her a position of power and honor to work beside you and with you? Could you trust them? Could you depend on them to give you good advice, to help you, to head important projects dear to your heart?
Doris Kearns Goodwin, at the Empower 2019 conference, said strong leaders have the capability to transcend past slights and resentments.
Strong leaders are able to see what is inside a person and use what is good to help their cause. This ability to forego resentment builds a loyalty in those people. These very people who could have been resented are now valued and their talents used to benefit a greater cause.
I admit that this would be very difficult for me – to have a person who slighted me and hurt me, to place them in a position of power next to me. I might be thinking – when will they pull out the knife and stab me again in the heart? This is truly a tough decision. You have to know the intentions of the one who slighted you. You have to be able to discern what the person’s heart is all about. We know of too many stories in history where leaders have trusted the wrong people and it cost them everything.
A strong leader strives to know the hearts of people. Just because someone disagrees or makes a mistake does not make them an enemy. The hearts of people who disagree or who make mistakes can be used to help a leader and a good cause. Strong leaders are not afraid to take people who might be on the “opposite” side and give them a seat at their table. Strong leaders are able to listen and value people who are different with different ideas. They rise above past slights and throw resentment out the window in order to provide the best thinking for those they serve.