You might think that your church is quite ordinary, and that nothing overly impressive or important takes place there. But Peter helps us to see that our churches, led by faithful under-shepherds, are the way the risen Lord Jesus is now leading us to our eternal home with Him.
If we are elders, we are to see our role as shepherds-not merely leaders or teachers, but followers of the Good Shepherd who lay down our lives for His sheep.
In John 21:15-17, Jesus charged Peter with the care of His sheep. Here in 1 Peter 5, we see Peter charging his fellow elders to ″shepherd″ the Chief Shepherd's sheep through their difficult times (vv. 2, 4).
Peter was such a prominent apostle, yet he humbly identifies himself as ″a fellow elder″ and ″a witness of Christ's sufferings″ (v. 1). It's a sober view of himself which he encourages other elders to learn from-to be humble and cross-oriented.
At the same time, Peter wants the elders to know that their service of Christ ends with a glory beyond us. He begins and ends his appeal by reminding them of the certain glory ahead (vv. 1, 4); he wants glory with Christ to fill their horizon, to captivate them, and to motivate their faithful service.
How are elders to view their service? It is both a privilege and a responsibility. If we are elders, we are to see our role as shepherds-not merely leaders or teachers, but followers of the Good Shepherd who lay down our lives for His sheep. The flock does not belong to the minister or elders-the church is ″God's flock″ (v. 2). The flock is not under the minister's or elders' control, but under their care (v. 2).
The style of Christian leadership is also important. Christian leaders should not ″lord it over″ the flock, like a boss or school principal who might rule by reminding subordinates of their place. Pastors are not to treat church members or junior staff as inferior servants. Rather, they model to the flock what it means to serve by genuinely serving them. In this way, the most faithful leader is also the most Christ-like servant, whether caring for a flock of 30 or 3,000. Our example, and not just our teaching, is to help people love our Lord who is gentle and humble in heart (see Matthew 11:29).
This is a word not only for pastors and elders, but it is also helpful for churches to know what Scripture requires of Christ's under-shepherds when it comes to appointing pastors and elders. Churches are to look for loving, sacrificial servants who point people to the Good Shepherd and to His glorious gospel of grace. Their role is not to hold elders to account, but to submit to them, as Peter will explain in tomorrow's reading.