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Mornings In The College Chapel by Francis Greenwood Peabody


John xxi.22.

The trouble with Peter in this passage is the sense of his own incapacity. Jesus comes to him with the great command: |Feed my lambs; feed my sheep;| as though Peter were appointed to take the lead among his followers. And then Peter shrinks back, not because of disinclination, but because of sheer self-distrust. Who is he that he should assume the leadership? He has failed once, perhaps he may fail again. |Lord,| he says, |there is John; is not he the man to lead? He never made a mistake as I did. What is he to do?| And then Jesus says: |What is that to thee? The question is not whether you are the best man to do this thing. You are simply called to do it as best you can. If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? Follow thou me.|

There is a great deal of this moral timidity in college life. Any man of reasonable {26} modesty sees about him plenty of men better able to be leaders in good service than he is. It seems audacious for him to pose as fit to lead. |There is John,| he says, |a far better man than I; what is he to do?| Then the spirit of Jesus again answers: |What is that to thee?| Here is the thing to be done, the stand to be taken, and here are you. Of course, there is much that you cannot do. Of course there are many that might do it better. But the call happens to be to you: |Follow thou me.| It is not a call to any exciting or dramatic service. It is simply the demand that one takes his life just as it is, and gives it as he can to the service of Christ. |Feed my sheep, feed my lambs;| give yourself to humble and modest service; live your own life without much anticipation of influence or effectiveness; with all your insufficiency and frequent stumbling, follow thou me; and in that simple following you are showing better than by all eloquence or argument how others ought to go, and you are helping and strengthening us all.

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