The world’s best leaders came to that role reluctantly. That truism is reflected not only in today’s readings but throughout history. In today’s second reading from Hebrews, Paul notes that God appoints every high priest to act on the people’s behalf as an intermediary with God.
“He can sympathize with those who are ignorant or who have gone astray, because he too is subject to the limitations of weakness,” Paul writes. “No one takes this honor on himself; it needs a call from God, as in Aaron’s case.”
To find more examples of “reluctant leadership,” I Googled those words and found several sites devoted to business management, each of which stated that reluctance is a desirable trait. One of these sites quoted Colon Powell, probably one of the best examples of a reluctant leader as well as a reluctant warrior. He was usually against military intervention as a first solution in a military crisis, and he was also leery of politics.
Powell once said, “The best leaders are those who can communicate upward the fears and desires of their subordinates, and are willing to fight for what is needed.” A good leader knows what’s needed because he’s one of those in need. That’s why Jesus was the perfect leader. He was God in human form, living among the poor. It took him 33 years to answer the call to leadership, but after some desert training from God the Father, God the Son realized his role and was never again reluctant to take necessary action.
The people of his time recognized this in him. In today’s gospel when Bartimaeus the blind beggar called out for help, Jesus took immediate action because he knew suffering and was moved by this blind man’s vision that he, Jesus, had the power to help him. Bartimaeus saw in Jesus a way to channel God’s mercy. Jesus communicated that desire upward to his commander and achieved victory.