Justice Frank Seepersad delivers a sermon at the St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Princes Town, yesterday.

As citizens went to the polls yesterday for by-elections and the Tobago House of Assembly elections, a judge, in his capacity as a lay minister, is encouraging leaders to practice Christ-like leadership by serving selflessly and with love.

During his sermon at the Susumachar Presbyterian Church in San Fernando on Sunday afternoon, Justice Frank Seepersad also urged the population to demand accountability from leaders.

Whether it be at work, community, church, home, or executive power, he said leadership roles play an integral part in society as the manner in which they discharge their responsibility, forges, and fashions every facet of life.

“When there is strong leadership in our homes, family life flourishes. When it exists in the church, faith and faithfulness is fostered. When it exists in a country fairness, fiscal strength and functional institutions find root,” he said.

Seepersad said the greatest example of leadership is seen in Christ Jesus who demonstrated that true leadership is a form of sacrifice, not privilege.

He said: “Leaders need to be men and women who are, in the words of Paul, persons of excellent standing, individuals who are prepared to assume roles of tremendous responsibility and who guided by faith are able to tackle problems objectively as they forge policy which is not fashioned by bias or selfish agendas.

“Leaders need to understand that problems may look insurmountable at the present but are very small from the distance and they should never lose sight of the goal or plan for their people.”

He added: “Christ-like leadership is fundamentally about giving and not taking. It does not focus on the propping up of one’s self but requires men and women who have strength of character, individuals of faith who are prepared to empty themselves for the good of others.

“At the heart of leading is the willingness to be fearless, empathic and the ability to exercise initiative and undertake sacrifice. In God’s eyes, leadership should not be pursued by those clawing for honour or recognition but by those who are prepared to fall on their knees as they are inconvenienced addressing the needs of others.”

While many complain about a leadership crisis at various levels, he questioned: “Where are the voices of action and the hands of proactivity? What are we doing about it?”

He continued: “We must cease our complacency and with clarity commit to Christ-centred living and we must communicate to our leaders at every level and clarify to them, the behaviour which we will reward or reject.

“Christ has shown us what effective leadership looks like and now we should demand it and live it.”

He urged the population to hold hands as equals to work together to build a society where there is fairness, trust, accountability, and transparency.

“Let us pray for and challenge those who lead, to pattern their efforts after Christ in selfless service characterised by love. May we focus upon strengthening our familial bonds and may we all rest secured in the knowledge that the love and grace of God, releases us from the paralysis of hate, divisiveness, discord, self-aggrandisation and empowers us to promote peace, unity, healing, and prosperity for all,” he concluded.