1 Peter 5:1-4 ~ "The Challenge of Leadership"
Consider the preacher.
His task isn’t quite one round of good times
Or of tasks that are light.
His work may seem easy to those in the pew
And many suppose he has little to do.
But often, his problems and tasks are the kind
That burden the heart and weary the mind.
He has to be neatly and properly dressed
With shoes that are shined and with clothes that are pressed
His poise must be seemly, his manners correct.
His life must be blameless; his walk circumspect.
He must not allow men or things to exhaust
His patience and sweetness whatever the cost.
Though some people censor and others applaud
He seeks but one thing, the approval of God.
He must please the parents, as well as the youth,
Draw crowds to the church, and still speak the truth.
His sermons, of course, must conform to the view
Of judges and critics who sit in the pew.
They have to be learned, intelligent, new
With fresh illustrations, both fitting and true.
They must not be ponderous, tiring or long
And never too personal, pointed, or strong.
His prayers must be beautiful, simple, sincere,
Meant both for the Lord, and the people to hear.
His voice must be clear, not too loud or too low,
His diction precise, not too fast or too slow.
He must make announcements, so clear and so straight
That no one forgets an event or a date.
He must tell his people to meet up for prayer,
But never to scold those who fail to be there.
His funeral sermons, though guarded and brief,
Must comfort the souls that are stricken with grief.
It just is too bad if a word should be said
Displeasing to kith or to kin of the dead.
He must be an orator, scholar and seer
A singer with sensitive musical ear.
A humourist, satirist, diplomat, wit,
A man who has wisdom and courage and grit;
A leader, and teacher, a one who can get
The requisite money for budget or debt.
He also must see that he never forgets
To pay his accounts or his personal debt.
He must be impartial and constantly aim
To be to all members exactly the same.
He must be a ringer of doorbells and keep
a vigilant eye on the lambs and the sheep.
He must be a mixer, and show that he cares
For civic and social and public affairs.
He must have an appetite for all the cakes
And cookies and salads, the Ladies’ Aid makes.
He must be a drinker of coffee and tea,
whatever the colour or flavour may be.
Misgivings must never cause him to decline
If he is invited to lunch or to dine.
He must keep his feelings encompassed within
A half dozen layers of crocodile skin.
He must keep his balance when walking among
Admirers and critics who make up the throng.
His wife must be gifted, attractive and sweet,
Industrious, capable, thrifty and meek.
She must not be critical, cranky, or cross,
Nor one who is given to meddle or boss.
She has to be modest in all that she wears,
And make no pretense nor put on any airs.
For no one must lead a more sanctified life,
And think less of self than the Minister’s wife.
Their children, of course, must be dear little saints
Whose conduct gives no one a cause for complaint.
They must be respectful, and modest, and meek,
Know when to keep silent, and when they may speak.
For if there are flaws in their manners, the same
Is sure to reflect on the Minister’s name.
How well he is liked will be shown by the way
That folks come to church, and take care of his pay.
And if they start grumbling, he quickly must prove
Both ready and willing to pack up and move.
And that isn’t all. These are only a few
Of the merits demanded by folks in the pew.
But preachers are mortals and who ever saw
A man in whom no one could find any flaw.
For reasons that we, here on earth, do not know,
The Lord does not leave any angels below.
And so, if a preacher was perfect, I fear
The Lord would not let him be lingering here.
Hence, if he’s doing the best that he can,
Put up with your preacher - he’s only a man.
Now that we have taken a humorous look at the role of our pastor, let’s look to the Word of God to discover
- The Ministry of the Pastor
- The Motives of the Pastor
- The Rewards of the Pastor
Look with me at 1 Peter 5: 1- 4 The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed: 2 Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; 3 nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; 4 and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.
When the apostle Peter wrote to the Christians who were scattered throughout many countries, it is obvious that it was not an easy time to be a Christian. They had already been through many trials, and they were now approaching a time of major persecution. He has instructed them about how they should behave themselves in the home, on the job, and in relation to the authorities. He has talked to them about suffering and reminded them to keep their eye on Jesus and what He suffered for them. And now he addresses their leaders to give them instructions about how to lead the church in difficult times or in good times. The elders who are among you I exhort. And this answers the question, “What can a church expect from my Pastor?”
Around A.D. 400, famous North African bishop Augustine described a pastor's job: "Disturbers are to be rebuked, the low-spirited to be encouraged, the infirm to be supported, objectors confuted, the treacherous guarded against, the unskilled taught, the lazy aroused, the
contentious restrained, the haughty repressed, litigants pacified, the poor relieved, the oppressed liberated, the good approved, the evil borne with, and all are to be loved."
How's that for a job description!
There have always been spoofs about the role of a Pastor: Here’s one: When a church seeks a pastor, they want the strength of an eagle, the grace of a swan, the gentleness of a dove, the friendliness of a sparrow, and the night hours of an owl. And they want him to live on the food of a canary.
Now seriously, what does God expect of a Pastor?
- The Ministry of the Pastor
- The Terms used:
The first thing we notice are the expressions which describe his role. The main term used in this passage and others is the term Elder. When Paul wrote to Titus he instructed him to “appoint elders in every city.” This was a Jewish term for their leaders, and implies that spiritual leaders need to have maturity and wisdom and be recognized for their spiritual ability. When Paul described the qualifications of a Pastor, he said, “Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride, he fall into the condemnation of the devil.” 1 Tim. 3: 6
Two other terms appear in this passage. When describing his work, he is encouraged to Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers,. The word for shepherd is the word from which we get our term Pastor, and the word overseer is the word from which we get the term Bishop. Three terms to describe the one position. When he wrote to them, Peter described himself as “I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed:” It is obvious that Peter knew nothing of bishops and archbishops and cardinals, and it certainly is obvious that he would have been shocked at the suggestion that he was the first Pope. Peter looked upon his qualifications to instruct the church simply the fact that he was a witness of the sufferings of Christ and a partaker of the glory that should follow.
- The Task Assigned:
There are only two main task assigned to the Pastor in this passage: “Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers,” Isn’t that amazing? But oh, what task they are! And who is sufficient for these things!
- Shepherd the Flock
One of God’s favourite terms for His people is the term sheep. Isaiah 40:11 “He will feed His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs with His arm, And carry them in His bosom, And gently lead those who are with young.”
“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want...” Ps. 23.1
Ezekiel 34:23 "I will establish one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them—My servant David. He shall feed them and be their shepherd.”
John 10:11 "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.”
Oh, dear ones, the term sheep is a term of endearment which God uses about us. It speaks of our weakness, our vulnerability, our tendency to stray, our absolute dependence on God. It speaks of God’s tender, and personal care over each and every one of us. For it is Jesus Christ Himself who is our Good Shepherd. Did He not use the picture of Himself leaving the 99 in the fold and going out to search for the one sheep which had gone astray?
- Shepherd the flock of God.
How mistaken we are when we speak of our church, or Pastor so and so’s church! It is God’s church. In verse four, Peter describes Jesus as the chief shepherd, and so it is obvious that the Pastor is an under shepherd. In carrying out our duties, the pastor is simply serving under His direction and as an extension of His love and care for each one of you.
So what is involved in shepherding the flock?
ii Feed the Flock
Peter never forgot that experience with the risen Christ, when Jesus assigned his duties: John 21:15 ¶ So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, [son] of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?" He said to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love You." He said to him, "Feed My lambs."John 21:16 He said to him again a second time, "Simon, [son] of Jonah, do you love Me?" He said to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love You." He said to him, "Tend My sheep."John 21:17 He said to him the third time, "Simon, [son] of Jonah, do you love Me?" Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, "Do you love Me?" And he said to Him, "Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You." Jesus said to him, "Feed My sheep.
When Jesus commissioned Peter to feed the flock, all of the Word that they had was the Old Testament. Jesus left the command with the disciples that they were to teach the believers “all things that I have commanded you!” Part of that teaching was putting Christ’s Word down in writing. The disciples did that and we have the whole New Testament. In fact we have the whole Bible.
The first responsibility of a Pastor is to preach and teach the true Word of God. Paul “declared unto them the whole counsel of God!” But don’t be mistaken. The sheep are to feed for themselves also. On the farm, no one expects the farmer to go around and hand feed every animal. No, you fork the hay into the stall or feeder and the animals have to come and eat it for themselves.
Dear ones, how well are you feeding your own soul? Have you got a skinny soul, because you are starving yourself to death through not reading the Word of God for yourself? Too many Christians make excuses. They say, “I can’t understand the Word. I don’t get anything out of it when I read.” Dear ones, start with the easiest parts and read them again and again, until you can handle something more.
But on the other hand, do you take advantage of the opportunities to be fed by the Pastor? In the early church the believers “continued steadfastly in the apostle’s teaching and in fellowship.” It appears that they were together all the time. Nowadays the opportunity for teaching has gotten cut back to 2 or 3 services a week. And many of the sheep don’t take advantage of more than one of those opportunities. My wife has been impressed with one statement in the Ladies’ Bible Study. It was pointed out that with physical food, eating takes away one’s appetite. But in spiritual food it is the failure to eat which takes away one’s appetite.
iii. Overseeing the Flock
But shepherding the flock involves more than just feeding them. It involves caring for and protecting, and correcting, and warning the flock of danger.
Acts 20:28 "Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.” Paul warned them that, “grievous wolves would enter in among you, not sparing the flock, and that even from themselves, men would arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after themselves.”
The Pastor is to oversee the flock to guard and to guide them in safe paths. At times this includes the difficult necessity to correct or discipline a member of the flock if it becomes evident that attitudes or behaviour are not in keeping with out profession of faith in Christ. In our membership application there isa promise. “I will receive loving correction and discipline with grace and responsiveness.” but if there comes a need for correction it is easy to forget that we ever made a promise like that.
- The Motives of the Pastor:
“not by constraint, but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; 3 nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock;”
There are three motives here for serving as a Pastor and three false motives to be avoided.
Negatively, a Pastor is disqualified for service, if he is serving out of , out of greed, or out of hunger for power.
- Positively, the Pastor is to serve willingly.
We had a dear older saint in our church in Kamloops who had a dry sense of humour. He said that his father told him there were two things you shouldn’t do unless you absolutely had to. One was to get married. The other was to be a Pastor. He didn’t marry until he was 40! Spurgeon said that if a man can do anything else than be a Pastor he should do it.
But seriously, no one should be a Pastor unless he has a sense of God’s call. Many years ago, a Pastor did research for his thesis on the ministry by sending out a questionaire to 500 or so Pastors. Among other things he asked if they had sensed a direct call from God into ministry, and secondly if they sensed a direct call from God to the church in which they served. I remember being quite shocked to read that about half of them replied that they had not sense a direct call from God either to the pastorate or to their local church. They may have served willingly, but did they serve with God’s full blessing?
- The Pastor is to serve Eagerly
The implication here is that the Pastor is to serve with a sense of eager willingness to minister, and without thought of what salary he may receive. The servant is worthy of his hire, it is true and churches should do their best to look after the temporal needs of their Pastor but money should never be a motive for or against ministry.
Listen to God’s Word in Ezekiel 34:2 "Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD to the shepherds: "Woe to the shepherds of Israel who feed themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flocks? 3 "You eat the fat and clothe yourselves with the wool; you slaughter the fatlings, but you do not feed the flock.”
Oh, dear ones, how dangerous it will be for those who claim the right to be spokesmen for God who do it for what they get out of it.
I have always made the statement that I am doing what I would love to do as a hobby, and I am getting paid for it beside!
- The pastor is to serve as an Example of what He is teaching
Notice here the warning against wanting to lord it over the flock.
Listen to the words of Jesus: Matthew 20:25 “But Jesus called them to [Himself] and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them.Matthew 20:26 "Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant.”
The Pastor is to be the chief servant of the congregation. Do you remember what we have learned about submission? The Pastor is to model that servant-hood for all to see and follow. He cannot expect the congregation to serve with servant hearts, unless he serves with that humble gentle spirit.
All of us are to take our model from the Lord Jesus. And what is the heart of the Lord Jesus? John 10:11 "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.”
Oh dear ones, what can you expect from your Pastor? You ought to be able to expect your Pastor to lead you, to feed you, to protect you, to pray for you, to correct you, sometimes even to rebuke you in the selfless spirit of Christ’s love.
- The Rewards of the Pastor
So, if a man gives this kind of leadership in the church; if he is found faithful to his calling, what may he expect?
He oughtn’t to expect anything because Jesus told a parable which said that when you have done all, you should say, “I have done that which was my duty to do.” But God is no man’s debtor, and here we see a wonderful promise: 4 “and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.”
Never forget, we haven’t reached the end of the story yet. Jesus Christ is coming back to receive us to Himself and to reward His servants according to their faithfulness. And so Peter promises the Pastor a fadeless crown of glory.
Listen also to what the apostle Paul said: Romans 8:18 “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy [to be compared] with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
I like the way Paul expressed this crown, “Therefore, my brethren, dearly beloved, and longed for, my joy and crown...”
Dear ones, if I serve you as Christ would have me serve, you will form part of my crown of glory. Did you know that? Isn’t that a challenge to both the sheep and the under shepherd to serve Christ out of a full heart of joy and faithfulness?