This tribute was written by Joni Eareckson Tada for Dr. Peter W. Teague following the announcement of his 2019 retirement.
Although countless accolades could be showered on Dr. Peter W. Teague for his outstanding ministry career spanning four decades of Christian education and leadership development, I have a strong feeling he would be satisfied to simply be called a servant. Even servants, though, are great leaders when they influence others for the highest good. And that’s Peter Teague. He humbly seeks the glory of his Master, as well as the highest joy of those he influences. He is indeed a servant leader.
But all leaders serve only for a season. When I read Peter’s retirement announcement to the trustees, it was clear he was graciously yielding his role for what he felt was the good of others and of Christ. Peter knows that his identity is not in his work, but in his Savior. His retirement statement spoke powerfully of Christ’s assessment of great Christian leadership – it is in humility, not authority; gentleness, not in power.
I firmly believe that God cultivated Peter’s spirit of humility through his family, especially Paulette and of course… Jessica. When a man humbles himself to delight in his severely disabled daughter or thinks nothing of pushing a wheelchair, talking with a boy who has Down syndrome, wiping drool, or assisting a stroke survivor with his walker, God is fashioning that man for greatness through service.
And although there are many awards, institutions and achievements to which Dr. Teague’s name could be attached, perhaps his highest achievement is in founding Jessica & Friends Community, a faith-based organization offering services and supports to individuals with autism and intellectual disabilities. One cannot lead families affected by disability without compassion, wisdom and a desire to lift others up, rather than be lifted himself.
I saw this when I spoke at a fundraiser for Jessica and Friends Community. Peter and Paulette seemed most themselves while connecting one-on-one with special-needs families, many extremely needy. You could see they felt right at home. Just as if they were dining with seminary trustees and their spouses.
John MacArthur once said, “According to Scripture, virtually everything that truly qualifies a person for leadership is related to character. It’s not about status, personal charisma, clout or worldly measurements of success. Integrity is the main issue that makes the difference between a good leader and a bad one.” And I would heartily agree. A rich heavenly reward awaits Dr. Peter Teague, a true servant leader.
“The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship… but not so with you. Rather, that the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves” (Luke 22:25-26).