Some time ago I received an advertisement in the mail for a workshop entitled “The Ultimate Supervisor.” The workshop promised to teach me the role of the supervisor — the art of prioritizing, dealing with change, building a better team and ways to get ahead in the company. As I read over today’s Gospel I found myself wondering how Peter would have done had he attended that workshop.
The course description made a point of differentiating between a “boss” and a “supervisor.” Peter started out as a pretty impetuous guy, not someone who would have been a very good boss. But Peter was changing. Perhaps it was when Peter spoke up while others held back that Jesus recognized Peter’s supervisory potential. “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Peter recognized that Jesus had priority over “… John the Baptist… Elijah… Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” His understanding of leadership was changing, too. Once he had led by the sheer force of his personality; now he would lead, knowing that he himself was being led (“… when you were younger, you used to … go where you wanted; but when you grow old … someone else will lead you where you do not want to go” Jn. 21:18). And in the challenging days ahead Peter would learn the need for team building within the growing Christian community.
Team building, prioritizing, time management, the need for change — Peter would learn them all. But there’s one more thing that Peter would learn, the thing on which all the others would hinge. According to the advertisement the ultimate supervisor “… must align [him/her]self with [his/her] boss’s values, goals, image and vision.” Peter would learn to align his values, goals, image and vision with those of Jesus, “… the Son of the living God.” Jesus, then, would become Peter’s ultimate supervisor.
“And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church …” Well, it looks like Peter would have done pretty well in that seminar after all. But what about us? How would we do? In a culture of self-promotion and exaggerated autonomy who do we recognize as our ultimate supervisor?
Van Benthem is a member of the Secular Franciscan Order and a longtime pastoral minister in the diocese.