Five Minute Devotions: 1 Peter 5
In 1 Peter 5, Peter’s final chapter, he wraps up his theme of accepting suffering with grace by addressing church leaders. In the opening paragraph of 1 Peter 5, he develops an important checklist for church leaders today.
To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder and a witness of Christ’s sufferings who also will share in the glory to be revealed: 2 Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; 3 not lording it 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 will never fade away.
While the Christian life is a requirement, Christian leadership is not. Not everyone is called to a position within the church, but everyone is called to service within the church. Although the word “elder” is used here, it is to be taken in a general term of “church leader,” equally applicable to pastors and church staff members and deacons, as well as what the church might typically call elders.
Church leadership should always be done out of a spirit of willingness. Someone forced into leadership forces their leadership. Small churches must always contend with this problem. There is always that one person who feels like they have to be in leadership to keep the church afloat. And nobody else steps up because so-and-so has always done it. It takes a willing spirit to perform the job well.
However, the opposite problem is usually the one that manifests itself more clearly. Many individuals desire leadership, but not for the right reasons. The church does not belong to the pastor, or any one of the elders or deacons. The lead pastor may be the vision-caster, but he is also a follower-leader, the individual leading the charge for change in the body of believers.
Church leadership should always first consider the needs of their congregation before their own needs. They must recognize that the needs of their congregation may differ wildly from their own. There may be age, gender, economic, social, and cultural gaps between leadership and laity. While this speaks to the need for a diverse group of leaders, it also speaks to the need for church leaders to be willing to accept change from that status quo for the purpose of moving the church forward—never to compromise the message, but always to modernize the method.
Church leadership is a great honor and a great responsibility. It often goes unnoticed in our day to day lives. People take the pastor for granted (Yes, I’ve been told that it must be nice to only work on Sundays). People take the deacons for granted (can you name who pays the electric bill at your church?). Leadership is often invisible until they do something unpopular. Being a church leader can be a difficult, thankless job that—for many people—is done without any financial reward.
Peter’s reminder of a heavenly reward comes as a renewed call to persevere. It’s a reminder that what we do does matter and that it does not go unnoticed by God.
Father God, we thank you for placing the call of leadership upon those within our churches. Empower them to enact your will in your churches and to lead with a clear mind and a pure heart.
How should the church handle individuals who want to be in leadership but do not seem to have the proper motivations or credentials?
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