1 Peter 5:1-4
To the elders among you,
I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ's sufferings and one who
also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God's flock
that is under your care, serving as overseers-- not because you must, but
because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money,
but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being
examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive
the crown of glory that will never fade away. (NIV)
The character of a church is merely
a reflection of its leaders. Difficult churches have troubled leaders.
Caring churches have loving leaders. Indifferent churches have apathetic
leaders. Dead churches have stagnant leaders. Haughty churches have self-righteous
leaders. What leaders exemplify is crucial. Churches become what they are
fed through the influence of those in leadership. Leaders must be examples
to those being led. It’s really not a question of whether they will be
an example or not. The question is, what kind of example will they be---good
Elders are to feed and shepherd the flock.
We are reminded of Jesus words to Peter.
When they had finished eating,
Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me more
than these?" "Yes, Lord," he said, "you know that I love you." Jesus said,
"Feed my lambs." Again Jesus said, "Simon son of John, do you truly love
me?" He answered, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Take
care of my sheep." The third time he said to him, "Simon son of John, do
you love me?" Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, "Do
you love me?" He said, "Lord, you know all things; you know that I love
you." Jesus said, "Feed my sheep. I tell you the truth, when you were younger
you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you
will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you
where you do not want to go." Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death
by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, "Follow me!" Peter
turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This
was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said,
"Lord, who is going to betray you?") When Peter saw him, he asked, "Lord,
what about him?" Jesus answered, "If I want him to remain alive until I
return, what is that to you? You must follow me." (NIV)
Becoming a shepherd of God's people
begins with striving to do right yourself. Peter wanted to know
what John's lot would be but Jesus said, " what is that to you?" Jesus
knew Peter would have a big enough job looking at himself. When we are
often worried about what others are doing, but our responsibility is to
do what God has called us to do.
Paul warned the elders in Ephesus to keep
watch over themselves. "Keep watch over yourselves and all
the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds
of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. I know that after
I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock."
(Acts 20:28-29 NIV)
Leaders are Suffering Servants
Leaders must be converted to Jesus Christ.
encouraged Peter to be converted. The unconverted cannot
lead others through the process of conversion. Peter makes more references
to the suffering of Christ as our example by which to live than any other
New Testament writer. Peter not only witnessed the suffering of Christ
but he also experienced what it was to suffer with Christ.
"And the Lord said, Simon,
Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as
wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou
art converted, strengthen thy brethren. And he said unto him, Lord, I am
ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death. And he said, I tell
thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice
deny that thou knowest me. (Luke 22:31-34)
Sharing in Christ's suffering has more
to do with serving than ruling. Ruling cares with it the ideal
of telling people what to do and often ends in lording it over people in
arrogance. Serving exemplifies a viable way of living to followers.
Also a dispute arose among
them as to which of them was considered to be greatest. Jesus said to them,
"The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority
over them call themselves Benefactors. But you are not to be like that.
Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one
who rules like the one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at
the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table?
But I am among you as one who serves. (NIV)
Leaders should remember it takes less
energy to lead than it does to rule. When people are following
you don't have to expend your energies driving them to where you want them
Sadly, many leaders do not know the
difference between leading and driving people. I grew up on a farm.
I distinctly remember one herd of feeder calves we were feeding every day.
I would get them in from the pasture every morning. I would put feed in
the stalls and then go and round them up. As I did this each morning, each
day it got easier to get them up into the barn. Eventually all I would
have to do is walk the hills and when they saw me they would begin walking
toward the barn from the backside of the farm. But the day we sold those
calves we decided that several individuals would go drive them up at midday.
We could not drive them to the barn. They ran away from us. They were used
to being led to the barn. It took much more manpower to drive them than
it had ever taken to lead them. So it is with leaders in the church.
People are willing to follow when leaders
are willing to lead. One of the qualifications of an elder is desire.
(1 Timothy 3:1) A pure desire is manifested in those who are seeking to
do the work of an elder before they are appointed. If you are looking for
elders, look for those who already show an interest and are involving themselves
in the work of an elder. Followers know the difference in the leader that
wants to lead and one who is forced to lead. Followers usually know the
difference in being led and being driven. The more willing the leader is
to lead, the more willing the follower is to follow. Christ draws men to
himself because he was and is a willing leader.
Leaders cannot force others to go where
they are unwilling to lead. When I was in California I had the
opportunity to observe a shepherd leading a flock of sheep. This seems
strange for the twentieth century, but it is true. It was really a picture
of the old west in the present. I was hunting ground squirrels in an almond
orchard one day, when a shepherd wondered by with sheep following him.
This shepherd was a foreign person brought to this country to herd sheep.
He lived in a make shift wagon converted into a place to stay. He wondered
over those wide-open spaces of the west with those sheep trailing behind.
Those sheep followed that shepherd willingly. There were no fences to keep
them off the main highway. There were no external restraints. That shepherd
lived with those sheep day and night. He went where he wanted those sheep
to go. There was nothing forced about it. He willing led, and the sheep
willingly followed. As I sat there in that almond orchard I could only
think about David the shepherd boy and Jesus being the Shepherd of our
souls. It was a sight to behold.
True leaders are not leading out of
greed. There is nothing wrong with an elder being paid if he is
engaged in his work full time. But they should not just serve for money.
Multimillion dollars ministries and television evangelist have cheapened
the gospel of Christ. If someone is engaged full time in serving it is
right to pay them, but they must not become greedy. True leaders are not
leading to benefit themselves but to benefit those who are following. They
are submitted to the needs of those following.
Followers must Be Servants
1 Peter 5:5-7
Young men, in the same way
be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with
humility toward one another, because, "God opposes the proud but gives
grace to the humble." Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty
hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him
because he cares for you. (NIV)
Submission of leaders is taught by implication
in the first four verses of chapter five. The
first four verses of this chapter explain what is means to be submissive
without ever using the word. The leaders are exemplifying the character
to be imbibed. Peter says, "Young men, in the same way be submissive to
those who are older." The words "in the same way" refer to the submissive
elders. The young men are to serve as the elders serve.
Two people clothed with humility toward
each other have little trouble working together. I
have been watching three painters paint our church building for the last
few days. A couple of them spend their time preparing the surfaces needing
paint. One is using a calking gun to calk all the cracks and the other
is priming the surface for the third painter. The third painter comes behind
them painting the final coat. When he catches up with them he puts down
his paintbrush and helps put on the primer coat or calk. Observing them
work is like observing clockwork. It is smooth as every person does his
job. They are committed to working together.
Peter stresses the power of submission throughout
his book. Mutual submission is the key to the pattern Christ left for the
church. Christians find freedom in their submission to God. They honor
all people and submit to lawful civil authority. (2:13) Christian slaves
are free to submit to their masters. (2:18) Wives are taught to submit
to their husbands. (3:1) Now Peter is admonishing all believers to submit
to God and to one another.
Obey your leaders and submit
to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account.
Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would
be of no advantage to you. (NIV)
1 Peter 2:17-18
Show proper respect to everyone:
Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king. Slaves, submit
yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are
good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. (NIV)
1 Peter 3:1-2
Wives, in the same way be
submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the
word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives,
when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. (NIV)
1 Peter 4:1-3
Therefore, since Christ
suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for
he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, that he no longer
should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but
for the will of God. For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing
the will of the Gentiles--when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness,
revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries. (NKJ)
Humble submission is the only means to exaltation
in God’s kingdom. It is no accident that Christ’s last service to the disciples
was washing their feet. He clothed himself with a towel---what a humble
picture---God girded with a towel in preparation for washing feet.
Submission is an act of faith.
We are trusting God to work things out according to his purposes and in
his own timing. We are afraid that we will be taken advantage of—but trust
God to make things work out.
1 Peter 5:6-7
Humble yourselves, therefore,
under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all
your anxiety on him because he cares for you. (NIV)
The beauty of submission is that it creates
an attitude where people can work through their problems for the benefit
Circumspection Is Essential
1 Peter 5:8-10
Be self-controlled and alert.
Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone
to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that
your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ,
after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make
you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever.
The evidence of the presence of grace
is that we yield to one another. It was pride that turned Lucifer
into Satan. (Isaiah 14:12-15) It was pride—a desire to be like God—that
stirred Eve to take the forbidden fruit. "The pride of life" is an evidence
of worldliness. (1 John 2:16) The only antidote to pride is the grace of
God. We receive the strength God's grace affords when we yield ourselves
to God in humble submission.
Self-control is an important part of
submission. Peter encourages us
to be sober minded. (1:13) We are encouraged to lay aside malice. (2:1)
Peter encourages us to shun evil and ensue peace. (3:11) Peter exhorts
us to arm ourselves with the mind of Christ. (4:1) In this chapter he encourages
us to be self-controlled and alert. We must stand firm in faith as we resist
the attacks of the devil.
In difficult times we must make a special
attempt to have clear minds. "Anger is a wind which blows out the
lamp of the mind." When we are attacked by the devil it may leave us thinking
we are all alone and angry. However, Peter reminds us every Christian is
facing the same problems. No one is exempt. Jesus faced the attacks of
the devil in the wilderness. (Matthew 4:1-11) It helps when we understand
that we are not alone.
Focusing on God’s grace is essential.Peter
writes, "And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory
in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore
you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever
and ever. Amen."
We must look to the day God will restore
us. God will right the wrongs and make up for what is lacking.
God will complete his work in us. (Philippians 1:6) God’s restoration will
take place when the time of suffering is over.
God will make us strong. "The
Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil
one." (1 Thessalonians 3:3) Satan sifted Peter like wheat, but now
he enjoys a firm and fixed position in Christ. Peter promises us the same
grace he received.
God will place us on a solid foundation.Each
one of us is built up into a spiritual house and Jesus Christ is the cornerstone
to the spiritual building.
I pray that out of his glorious
riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner
being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray
that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together
with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the
love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge-- that you
may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who
is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to
his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and
in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (NIV)
To walk circumspectly we must clearly
see what we are doing is true and real. Difficulties cause us to
question what we believe and what we are standing for. Peter writes, "With
the help of Silas, whom I regard as a faithful brother, I have written
to you briefly, encouraging you and testifying that this is the true grace
of God. Stand fast in it." (1 Peter 5:12 NIV)
As we come to the end of this epistle we truly
realize our hope in Christ is a living hope. He has begotten us to a living
hope. Our hope comes alive as we submit to God’s grace and trust in his
enabling power to resurrect us from the deadness of this world.
1 Peter 5:12-14
With the help of Silas,
whom I regard as a faithful brother, I have written to you briefly, encouraging
you and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Stand fast in it.
She who is in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you her greetings,
and so does my son Mark. Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace to
all of you who are in Christ. (NIV)
Knowing God's grace is true enables
us to stand up for Jesus Christ.
It is always great to know that we are
not alone and there are others praying for us.