As Jeremiah reminds us, not all leaders have their people’s best interests at heart. Too often, the ones who long to control others seize positions of leadership. They care nothing for the people’s needs. Instead, they get carried away by their own power and their motives become selfish and warped. We all remember many such leaders and sadly recall the harm they have done to the innocent.
But there is hope. Jesus promises another kind of leadership: one that is rooted in peace, truth, goodness, compassion, righteousness, mercy, reconciliation, sacrifice, and never-ending love. He gathers to himself all who have been scattered, caring for them, feeding them, protecting them. He leads them beside still waters. He restores their souls.
He also tends to his disciples, for he knows that as they carry out the mission they share with him, they need support and time to unwind. And so he listens to their stories and finds them a quiet place where they can rest. He models what it is to be a good shepherd, a good leader, so that they can become good leaders too.
Today, as in the time of Jeremiah, many people who find themselves in leadership roles have a lot to answer for. But if we look to the Good Shepherd as our guide along life’s paths, we will not go astray.
Anne Louise Mahoney