In my previous blog post, I wrote about how Jesus called the first disciples to service and how He calls us in much the same way today. Here, I would like to examine that a bit further. It is important for us to remember that we profess the same Faith they did so many years ago, faith in Jesus Christ our Lord, that we are disciples of the same Lord, and that, as such, we bear witness to the one and the same Gospel that they did. There is no disconnect. It is one Faith. We are one Church. And if we pay great attention to the examples that the apostles set before us, we will learn a great deal.
If we examine the passage in Mark’s Gospel in which Jesus specifies the 12, it is clear that He called them forth for a specific purpose; He appointed them for a vital role in His salvific mission. They were called to be leaders.
Mark 3:14-15 tells us, “He appointed twelve (whom He also named apostles) that they might be with Him and He might send them forth to preach and to drive out demons.”
In other words, through His calling, they would have the authority and even the responsibility to take part in Jesus’ own ministry in a very special way. Their own ministry, then, would call more men and women to Jesus. Today, we know them as our bishops. They are the head shepherds of our dioceses, and as such, they lead us on the journey of Faith. They preach and teach and heal us through the Sacraments. They are true leaders, just like the first 12.
You may be wondering what all this talk about the apostles and the current day bishops has to do with you. After all, most of you reading this are not bishops, many of you may not even be priests, but many of you are parish leaders in one way or another. So, you can and should relate to the calling of the 12 in a special way. Just like the 12 apostles, God has called each one of us for a specific purpose, and, just like the 12, we each play a vital role in the mission of Jesus here on Earth. As leaders we will stand in the forefront of things, working to guide and direct our parishioners, helping to assist our pastors as they carry out their ministry, leading one or another ministry at the parish and more.
Closer examination of some of the apostles’ personal calls will help us see how we can most effectively live our own calls to be leaders today.
In Matthew 5:18-22, Jesus calls Simon and Andrew, telling them, “Come, follow me and I will make you fishers of men.”
He called James and John in the same way, and all four men dropped their nets and answered the call.
Notice, in that simple call, those men, who were called to an important role of leadership in the Church were called not simply to lead but, much more importantly, to follow. And they did just that. They “Left their boat and their father and followed Him” (Mt. 4:22).
We all ought to cling to their example as we strive to carry out our own personal calls. Sure, we have a responsibility to lead people in the ways of discipleship, and our roles as parish leaders – as clergy and lay leaders – are vital as we strive to form good stewards, but as leaders we must, first and foremost, be followers. We must follow the great leader. Remember, we are His disciples. We are not trying to gain disciples for ourselves. We are trying to call more men and women to Him. It is only when we follow His lead, only when we live to serve Him, that our own leadership will bear great fruit.