Shepherd the Church
“1And now, a word to you who are elders in the churches. I, too, am an elder and a witness to the sufferings of Christ. And I, too, will share in his glory when he is revealed to the whole world. As a fellow elder, I appeal to you: 2 Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly—not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God. 3 Don’t lord it over the people assigned to your care, but lead them by your own good example. 4 And when the Great Shepherd appears, you will receive a crown of never-ending glory and honor.” 1 Peter 5:1-3 NLT
Peter, in his letter has written to the early persecuted church. He has taught them about persecution, suffering, marriage, and Christian growth. In chapter 5, he turns his attention to the leaders of the church. When he writes to the “elders” Peter is not writing to those who are physically more advanced in age necessarily, but to those in the church who led with maturity and wisdom. Pastors in Paul’s letter to Timothy, (1 Timothy 5:17), are identified essentially as a teaching elder.
As he writes this letter, Peter is no longer the brash, young, inexperienced disciple he was during Jesus’ time. Back then Jesus commissioned Peter to feed and tend His sheep. Peter probably recalled Jesus’ words to him as he now commissions the next generation of church leaders to shepherd the church beyond his own ability. Peter is now passing the baton of leadership and is teaching what church leaders are supposed to do.
A shepherd is responsible to feed the sheep
As a shepherd of the church, the elder is responsible to feed the sheep with the Word of God. As a leader in the church, it is important not only to feed the church funny and inspiring stories, but to give instruction from the Word of God which brings encouragement, edification, and builds up the saints of God.
A shepherd is responsible to protect, guide, and nurture the sheep
The shepherd is also responsible for protecting, guiding, and nurturing the sheep. He will oversee the sheep and lead them to a place of protection. The shepherd will lead by casting a compelling vision for the church to guide them to lead lives that are faithful to God’s Word and to reach out to the lost that need to know Jesus.
A shepherd is responsible to care for the sheep
The church leader or elder is also responsible to care for the sheep. In this chapter, Peter encourages elders to care for the flock that has been entrusted to them. It is important to note that the flock “has been entrusted to you.” In other words, church leaders need to remember that the church is God’s church, and because it is His church, elders are servants of the flock.
It is refreshing to see that Peter calls church elders/leaders to shepherd the church. He does not say they have to have big churches with lots of money (while there is nothing wrong with that either). He does not tell them they need large facitilties or that they need to have the latest technologies (although I do enjoy technology). He says they must first and foremost care for and shepherd God’s people.
Holy Spirit use me to help shepherd Your people and to care for, guide, nurture and feed Your flock. In the powerful name of Jesus Christ, Amen.