Before Jesus ascended to heaven he asked Peter a few questions. Peter answers and Jesus gives him a charge with each question all pointing in the same direction.
“After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these? ” “Yes, Lord,” Peter replied, “you know I love you.” “Then feed my lambs,” Jesus told him. Jesus repeated the question: “Simon son of John, do you love me?” “Yes, Lord,” Peter said, “you know I love you.” “Then take care of my sheep,” Jesus said. A third time he asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep.”
Jesus makes it clear that the call of a minister (in this case Peter) is called to feed the flock. He repeats Himself to emphasize the importance. Later Peter gives the exhortation to other leaders within the church (elders).
‘And 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: 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. Don’t lord it over the people assigned to your care, but lead them by your own good example. And when the Great Shepherd appears, you will receive a crown of never-ending glory and honor.’
1 Peter 5:1-4
Peter gives us an admonishment of conduct as leaders in the church.
First he says to care for the flock that God has entrusted you. Notice he says that the flock has been entrusted to you by God. God has trusted you to lead the people you are leading. He trusted me for the specific flock I am leading. It is my job to care for them. It’s my job as a father and husband to care for my family because they are a gift of God to me. It is my job as a pastor to care for the staff, volunteers, and families that God has entrusted to me through my local church. Who has God entrusted you to care for?
Next Peter tells us to watch over the flock. He breaks down the right attitudes to have while leading. We are to serve willingly not grudgingly. We aren’t doing this to get anything out of it. Now that may seem to be an obvious statement. Most pastors and church leaders aren’t in it for the money. That’s true but some are and some are in it for the feeling it gives them to help other people. Are you addicted to being needed? Do you get a high on being in constant demand from people you serve? Sometimes I am. Sometimes I find my identity in what I can do for others and the pull on me rather than in Christ. We are to serve as we are serving God not people. Using that thinking helps us to never feel taken advantage of because we can look at our service to others as a service to God. The opposite is also true. How they treat us is actually how they treat God. That’s a key to living about offense.
Thirdly he tells us to not lord over people we lead but to lead by example. We can no longer say “do as I say but not as I do”. We can’t make ourselves the heroes of our sermons on Sunday and live like villains the rest of the week. Being an example is not about living a perfect life. It’s about living a life that reflects grace and an dependence upon God. It’s ok to not be ok but its not ok to stay not ok. Is my life an example that pushes people to God or away from Him?
Peter promises a reward is waiting for us when the great shepherd appears. Let’s uses Peter’s writings as a checklist to keep our heart and motives in line with God’s will. In upcoming posts I will break down what it means to care for the flock God has entrusted us as we take a look at further writings about sheep and shepherds from scripture.