1 Peter 5:1-4
What must leaders in Jesus’ church be like? How do we recognize genuine integrity in them, and what can we legitimately expect of them? Peter begins by identifying himself as not only an apostle (5:1), but also an “elder” along with those elders in the churches to whom he writes.
Peter then addresses the work of elders; they are to “shepherd the flock of God, exercising oversight” (5:2). He does not elaborate further on their work of caring for lives of believers (see Hebrews 13:17), but instead, he focuses on their manner and motive in doing so.
Elders must lead willingly, even with eagerness (5:2). In what seems to address how elders motivate God’s people, Peter contrasts an aggressive overbearing approach of intimidation with that a living an exemplary life which is so obvious that the flock will respond appropriately without being badgered (5:3).
The elder’s heart must be fixated on a single heartfelt longing, viz., that one day Jesus (interestingly called “the Chief Shepherd”) will return at which time elders will receive from Him “the unfading crown of glory” (5:4). This designates Jesus’ approval of the leader’s life and work as an elder among God’s people. Nothing better!
Take some time to think or talk through the following questions with a view to applying the passage in your own life.
- Most are not elders in the local church, but all lead someone. In light of this, have I set the elder’s integrity and service as a goal to seek? Of those things listed by Peter as incumbent for elders, which do I most desire to grow in? What’s a first step I can take to do so?
- Do I pray for my church leaders regularly? Do I ask God to enable them to be as Peter depicts them in the passage? How often do I take time to speak to elders and express my appreciation or ask their prayer requests? (Do at least once this week!)