The Pressure of one’s Peers

We generally equate peer pressure with the teen years. But as my wife and I were discussing recently, peer pressure doesn’t go away, it just changes shape.

In elementary school, we were concerned about having a “cool” backpack or lunch box. In junior high, we wanted to be part of the in-crowd, the cool kids. In high school, we had to wear the right fashions, listen to the right music, and attend the right parties. As a high school senior, the pressure was on to be accepted into the right college or university and receive more scholarship funds than our rivals.

In our twenties, people asked when we were going to get married. We felt left out when our friends starting pairing up and heading to the altar. Then it was the pressure to buy a house, establish a career, and start a family. Since we attended seminary after college and waited to start a family until after I finished school, we were certainly behind the pace of our peers.

In our forties & fifties, we measured ourselves against other parents on the barometer of how well our children were doing in school, what extracurricular activities they were involved in, and whether they scored the winning goal or touchdown or made the honor roll.

Now that we are in our sixties, my wife and I feel pressure about retirement. We are being asked, “When will you retire? Where will you retire?” We start to ask ourselves, “Can we take an exotic, foreign vacation like our friends?” Then there is the pressure to have grandkids so we can tell our friends about what they are doing.

As a pastor, I feel the pressure of how the church down the street or across town is doing. Does Church A have more people than we do? Is Church B meeting their budget? Is Pastor C on the radio? Does Pastor D have a podcast? Is Pastor E a published author? I ask myself the uncomfortable question, “Am I as ‘successful’ as my peers? Do I measure up?”

It seems that I need to review and embrace the apostle Paul’s instruction in Galatians 1:10.

For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.

Rather than succumb to the pressure of my peers, I need to focus my attention on pleasing the audience of One.

Leave a comment

Posted by on August 21, 2018 in Bible Study, Personal growth, Scripture


The Cost of a Good Sermon

David Mathis has written an insightful article on what preachers face week in and week to prepare and deliver a sermon. “What Does a Good Sermon Cost? The Glad Sacrifice of Christian Preaching” will give you a better understanding of what your pastor goes through to speak to you each week.

Leave a comment

Posted by on August 20, 2018 in Preaching


What’s a Leader to Do?

One of the greatest leaders during the 20th Century was Sir Winston Churchill. He led Great Britain during the dark days of World War II. Among his more memorable quotes were, “Never, never, never give up,” and “If you are going to go through hell, keep going.”

In his first letter, the apostle Peter warns his readers that persecution is coming. In 3:14, he states, “If you should suffer for righteousness …” In 4:17, he points out, “It is time for judgment to being at the household of God …” During times like this, people look to their leaders for comfort and guidance. It is no surprise that in 1 Peter 5:1-4, Peter explains the role and task of the church leaders. He explains that shepherd elders willingly serve as models as they lead and care for the people God has entrusted to them.

Peter’s Qualifications (1). Peter was an apostle. He was part of Jesus Christ’s inner circle. He was a leader of the church in Jerusalem. However, Peter doesn’t play those trump cards. Instead, he writes with humility and describes himself as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ’s suffering, and one who will share in the glory to come.

The Task of the Leader (2a). The New Testament uses three different terms to refer to the same church leaders. The words are used interchangeably in Acts 20:17, 28, and 1 Peter 5:1-2.

Greek word

English word Focus
“poimen” Pastor/Shepherd

Attitude of the leader


Elder Character of the leader
“episcopos” Overseer/Bishop

Task of the leader

Rather than provide a detailed job description for church leaders, Peter focuses more on the HOW rather than the WHAT of shepherding. We have to turn to other passages of Scripture to get a fuller idea of the task of pastors and elders. Their task includes:

  • Protecting the flock (Acts 20:28-31)
  • Feeding the flock (Acts 2:42; 6:1-7)
  • Leading the flock (Acts 11:29-30)
  • Caring for the flock (Matthew 18:15-18; Acts 6:1-7; James 5:14)
  • Shared leadership

The Manner of the Leader (2b-3). Peter spends more time addressing the manner in which leaders are to lead, and especially what they need to guard against.


Avoid this – “Not”

Do this – “But” Guard against
Reason Have to Want to



Greedy Serving Self-indulgence
Style Dictator Model

Hunger for power

The Reward of the Leader (4). Peter explains that there will be a day of reckoning. Those who lead and shepherd well will receive a crown of glory.

As church leaders, we need to ask ourselves difficult questions. Am I fulfilling my responsibility? What’s my reason? What’s my motive? What’s my style or manner?

As members of the congregation, we should pray for our leaders. We should submit to their authority in order to make their task easier. We should choose leaders based on their character.

This is the synopsis of a message preached at First Central Bible Church in Chicopee, MA, on August 19, 2018. It is part of an ongoing series in the book of 1 Peter. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.


A Hope-Filled Resource

Book Review: Praying the Promises: Anchor Your Life To Unshakeable Hope, by Max Lucado & Andrea Lucado

Praying the Promises: Anchor Your Life To Unshakeable Hope, by Max Lucado & Andrea Lucado looks to be volume in the “gift book” category. It is a resource you would use yourself and/or give to someone going through a challenging season of life.

The book contains 30 of Max Lucado’s favorite promises in Scripture. As he explains,

After forty years of ministry, I’ve discovered that nothing lifts the weary soul like the promises of God. This book contains some of my favorites. Many of them are go-to promises I’ve turned to throughout the years to encourage others—and to encourage myself.

Each of the 30 chapters follows a similar format. It begins with a title page containing one verse of Scripture. The first one is “God had made a covenant with you” and the verse is 2 Peter 1:4. There is a one-page devotional thought, “Unshakeable Hope,” followed by four verses of Scripture from both the Old and New Testaments. This is followed by a suggested prayer, “Praying God’s Promises.” Lastly, there is a statement of application, “I Am …” or “I Will …”

The purpose of the book is stated on the inside dust cover, “For every problem in life, God has given us a promise. We can find hope by praying those promises.”

While it is a good resource, it is very similar to many others on the market. The main selling point is the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Leave a comment

Posted by on August 18, 2018 in Books, Prayer, Quotes


An active imagination

At last, an exercise plan I can follow!

Leave a comment

Posted by on August 18, 2018 in Fun


Crowns & Rewards

In studying 1 Peter 5 this week, I came across a helpful chart by Dr. Tom Constable on Crowns that will be given to Christ followers. The chart on crowns appears in his notes on 1 Peter and Revelation. I don’t recall which set of notes the chart on Believer’s Future Inheritance comes from.

Leave a comment

Posted by on August 17, 2018 in Bible Study, Tom Constable


Feed your mind to feed your soul

Leave a comment

Posted by on August 16, 2018 in Quotes, Tim Challies