Today some churches celebrate two icons of the Christian tradition: Peter and Paul. Two very different men. Two very different perspectives. Peter, a staunch traditionalist, clinging to his Jewish traditions and Paul, the great Jewish fundamentalist turned Christian progressive! Peter, who thought the Christian message was only for Jews. And Paul, who opened the doors for the message to be spread to and lived by all. Two very different men. But two very similar men in that both were quite flawed and both were men of great passion.
Paul ruthlessly persecuted early Christians and could oftentimes be a braggart . He had an ego the size of the planet! And Peter could be a fumbling idiot at times, shooting off his mouth before speaking. In the end he even denied knowing Jesus and he wept bitterly over his lack of courage. Yet, he became the rock of this new movement, going from a frightened man behind a locked door to one who openly and boldly told his truth! And Paul, after being knocked of his high fundamentalist horse, saw the blindness of his ways and went so far as to insist that ALL were welcome, even those “pagans!” Two flawed passionate men who did not allow their flaws to stop them!
How often we think “who am I to do great things?” We look at our shortcomings and perhaps our lack of education, experience or resources. We look at the mistakes we’ve made and continue to make and, because of this, we muddle through life idly, hiding somewhere on the periphery, afraid to come front and center. Yet who is the one without flaws? What leader is without “sin?” What leader has not made mistakes? Perhaps the biggest mistake we could possibly make would be to allow our flaws to stop us from stepping up to the plate.
Or sometimes society holds people down, keeps them in their place. Imagine years ago when a person of color, a woman or an openly gay person wouldn’t have dreamt of being a leader! And today, slowly, ever so slowly, precisely because people have had the courage to step up to the plate and not be held down, people of color, women and openly gay people are increasingly taking positions of leadership and letting their light shine!
Instead of concentrating on our flaws, instead of allowing ourselves to be held in place by societal, cultural or even religious norms, think instead about the gift that we are and the light we have to share and . . . step up to the plate. And when people start knocking us down, as leaders are, let the one who is without a flaw cast the first stone!