Shepherd the Flock of God
5 So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
By Silvanus, a faithful brother as I regard him, I have written briefly to you, exhorting and declaring that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it. She who is at Babylon, who is likewise chosen, sends you greetings, and so does Mark, my son. Greet one another with the kiss of love.
Peace to all of you who are in Christ.
1 Peter 5 Commentary
by Hank Workman
Leadership. It’s always been interesting to me how there are some who long for leadership within the church but are not willing to serve. That aspect many times has come from one’s own desire for the title but little to no modeling of actually serving the body. It goes so contrary to what Jesus modeled and challenged.
I have witnessed both ends of the spectrum of this. The most inspiring leaders I’ve sat under were those who served without any desire for recognition, but worked within their gifts and made a difference. They were steady and hard workers. When I look back at those times, it is what challenged me so much in the role of leadership and truly a deep care for the work that church had. Sadly, I have sat under quite the opposite as well.
These were the leaders who considered themselves the CEO of the church (yes, they actually called themselves that!) who sat behind their desk, didn’t lift a finger too often but at times even ordered us to do things they were unwilling to do or in actuality was within their job description. Something disconnected for them with their position and they viewed themselves as the boss rather than as a co-worker. Not only was this type of setting discouraging and stirred strife time and again, it was absolutely sinful.
So yes, there are those who lead by example and those who lead by dictatorship. What these experiences have done personally has shown me know how not to lead and also inspired me as to how I should be carrying out the task set before. It is an internal balancing act many times as I question myself and wonder if I’m being effective and following the example of Jesus and guidelines He taught; the things Paul and Peter specifically laid out.
So it’s interesting to consider Peter’s statements to church leadership, specifically elders. Peter was one of the 12. He was in the inner circle of 3. As Acts shows the absolute transformation of this man, he became a massive spokesman for the Apostles and preacher. He was a pillar within the church of Jerusalem. If anyone could have had a big head, it would have been him. But he identified himself as a co-laborer, a fellow elder and not superior.
He challenges the readers who hold such positions to shepherd the flock and serve. One of the last conversations recorded in John during breakfast Jesus reiterated again and again to Peter, “Feed my sheep.” It’s such a lovely picture and a profound statement.
Peter had heard the challenge and as we read through the book of Acts acted upon it. Here he reiterates these statements to one in a leadership and has taken his own advice he gives. Peter worked alongside the other elders in caring for the flock. It is an absolutely powerful example of Christian leadership where title, authority and even experience are based on serving others not power or a title.
The reality is all of us are leaders of some form within this life. Whether we hold a position in a church or on a ministry board, we hold leadership at our workspace and most definitely in our homes. We have been entrusted with lives to make a difference. We have been challenged to lead by a good example and have an eagerness to serve. We should never have the attitude of “what’s in it for me”, but how can I inspire and make people long for Jesus.
“Feed my sheep.” Take these words to heart.
1 Peter 5 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
Peter is following up on his previous chapter on suffering. It’s no surprise that in order to withstand suffering and encourage others through it, you need to have strong leadership. Peter is writing directly to pastors and elders, but also outlining the roles throughout the church.
Shepherd God’s flock among you, not overseeing out of compulsion but freely, according to God’s will; not for the money but eagerly; 3 not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.1 Peter 5:2-3 HCSB
Peter wants shepherds to do their work out of a desire to serve, not for pay, power, or position. An effective pastor desires to serve through obedience so that the flock can follow. This is an important clarification. If a pastor is not living in a way that sets an example for others to follow, that pastor may be in danger of shepherding for the wrong reasons.
Peter admonishes young men to submit to authority. We think of “young” as people in their teens or 20’s, but in the ancient world, it was common for anyone under the age of 40 to be considered young. In some cases, that line was 60! So, the range of people he is speaking to is much broader than we would typically envision.
In the same vein, Peter hammers home the importance of being “clothed” in humility. This is ironic considering he was caught in his own pride many times in Scripture. If anyone was qualified to talk about humility, it was the man who repeatedly denied knowing Jesus.
When you put all this together – service, submission, and humility – you get a picture of Jesus Christ. Probably the most fitting image of what Peter is describing (especially when he says ‘clothe yourself’) is in John 13 when Jesus lays aside his robe to put on a towel and wash his disciples’ feet. Jesus literally clothed Himself with a garment that would have been considered unfit for a king – let alone the King of Kings.
Peter, once again, was front and center for this encounter. In his pride, he resisted Jesus’ service but realized in time the error in his thinking. The powerful testimony of Peter here in 1 Peter 5 is authentic and believable because he struggled with these very same issues during his time following Jesus.