I want to begin this article with a statement: Every leader needs someone like Peter on their staff, and every person needs a friend like Peter in their life.
While this statement may not seem earth shattering or revolutionary, I believe the place in the Bible that led me to this conclusion quite possibly could be. I was recently looking at an incident in Matthew’s gospel that made this truth about Peter come alive to me.
A Conversation in Matthew’s Gospel
When you look at this portion of Scripture concerning Peter, many times it causes us to look at him in a bad light.
“From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. ‘Never, Lord!’ he said. ‘This shall never happen to you!’ Jesus turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns’” (Matthew 16:21-23).
When you look at this verse, it is natural to focus on Jesus’ response to Peter, and let’s be clear it was a strong response. However, there is something in these verses I want to highlight that makes Peter the type of friend every person needs. If you are a leader, this is the type of person you want working with you.
Let’s Go Back a Moment…
Prior to this happening, Peter had just made a declaration that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of the living God.
“When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say the Son of Man is?’ They replied, ‘Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ ‘But what about you?’ he asked. ‘Who do you say I am?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’ Jesus replied, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven” (Matthew 16:13-17).
Right off the bat I hope you notice two stark contrasts here. This is not the point of this article, but just something to note. In one moment, Jesus commends Peter for having revelation that comes from God. A little while later, Jesus is looking at Peter and saying get thee behind me Satan. There is a lot I could say about that, but I will save that for another time. Just thought it was an interesting contrast.
Now back to the main point.
Why Is Peter the Type of Person You Need in Your Life?
The main reason you need people like Peter in your life is because he was not afraid to speak his mind and tell you what he was thinking. In one instance, Peter told Jesus what he thought about who he is. In the next instance he told Jesus what he thought concerning what Jesus was about to do. Peter was comfortable enough to freely share his opinions with Jesus. The tendency is to look at this in the negative, not just because of what Peter said, but because of who he said it to. Yet, I believe this incident in some way can position Peter in a positive light, which we don’t often do when we read this part of the story.
Look again at verse 22:
“Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. ‘Never, Lord!’ he said. ‘This shall never happen to you!’” (Matthew 16:22).
Do you realize after Jesus said he would have to suffer, die and be raised again, Peter pulled Jesus aside and began to rebuke him? Let that sink in for a moment. The nerve of Peter rebuking Jesus is what most people think. Maybe we should change that and think about the courage of Peter to rebuke Jesus. Peter wasn’t on board with the plan that Jesus had laid out, and rather than just accept it and say nothing, Peter spoke up. He should be commended for his bravado and for his willingness to say what was on his mind. In this case he was wrong, and I am not supporting him for being wrong, I am applauding him for saying what he thought.
Far too often we don’t want people in our lives who are going to disagree with us or tell us how they really feel. We often prefer the types of people who will just say what we want to hear. If all you ever do is surround yourself with people that will tell you what you want to hear, then you will not grow. Think about the people who are closest to you. Do you only have people around you that tell you how good you are, or how wonderful a job you are doing? There is nothing wrong with this type of encouragement when it is warranted, but it must be balanced. The problem is there are times when we are not doing good or the job we are doing is not great. In these moments you need a Peter in your life to tell you the truth or challenge your thinking on a particular matter.
When Peter opened his mouth and rebuked Jesus, he thought he was saying what was in Jesus’ best interest. However, Peter was thinking about what was in his own best interest because he didn’t want to see Jesus suffer and die. (Somehow he missed the raised to life part.)
Again, let me say I am not commending what Peter said because Jesus correctly chastised him. I am simply acknowledging the courage Peter had to say what was on his mind. We all need people around us who don’t just automatically or blindly agree with us, we need people who tell us when they think we are wrong. This doesn’t mean those people are always right, but sometimes it may force us to re-evaluate and be more certain of the choices we are making.
This is true of leaders and true of us as individuals. The best leaders surround themselves with people who are not afraid to tell them the truth and how they feel. These are also the best types of friends to have. Unfortunately, most people either can’t handle that or just don’t want those types of people around.
One last thing to notice is that while Jesus corrected Peter, he didn’t dismiss him. He was still one of the twelve and as we know he went on to do great things for God. He was instrumental in spreading the gospel and was a true leader in the early church. We need to make sure we don’t dismiss the Peters in our lives because those are the ones who will most often challenge us and make us better. At the end of the day, people like Peter are essential and when we embrace them, they will help us become the people and leaders that God has created us to be.
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Clarence L. Haynes Jr. is a speaker, Bible teacher, and co-founder of The Bible Study Club. He is the author of The Pursuit of Purpose which will help you understand how God leads you into his will. He has also just released his new book The Pursuit of Victory: How To Conquer Your Greatest Challenges and Win In Your Christian Life. Do you want to go deeper in your walk with the Lord but can’t seem to overcome the stuff that keeps getting in the way? This book will teach you how to put the pieces together so you can live a victorious Christian life and finally become the man or woman of God that you truly desire to be. To learn more about his ministry please visit clarencehaynes.com.