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.
Attitude of the leader
|Elder||Character of the leader|
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||
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.