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Exemplifying Biblical Leadership

1 Peter 5

Jim Davis

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 or bad.

Elders are to feed and shepherd the flock. We are reminded of Jesus words to Peter.

John 21:15-22
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. Jesus 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.

Luke 22:24-27
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 to go.

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.

Hebrews 13:17
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 of all.

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. Amen. (NIV)

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.

Ephesians 3:16-21
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.


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