Text: 1 Peter 5:1-6 | Listen to Message
Most of us don’t spend a whole lot of time around sheep and shepherds these days, so we may not readily grasp what Peter meant when he instructed elders to “shepherd the flock of God that is among you” (1 Peter 5:2).
Shepherding was not a glamorous job. It involved long hours out in the elements defending sheep from predators (and from their own stupidity), leading them to find nourishment, rescuing them when they wandered off, and caring for their wellbeing. Shepherding was hard work with almost no breaks. And shepherds were some of the least respected people in all of society. To be a good shepherd, a man had to be humble, industrious, and fiercely loyal.
This is the picture Jesus chose, first for himself – “I am the Good Shepherd” – and then for those who would lead his church – “feed my sheep.”
Pastors today, especially in persecution-free Western culture, don’t often look like the picture of a pastor sketched in the New Testament. Some serve out of obligation because they don’t know what else to do. Others use the ministry as a vehicle of self-promotion, seeking fame and fortune. Still others just love power: they live to control other people and be in charge. Instead of leading and feeding God’s people, many shepherds manipulate God’s people for personal gain.
By contrast, a biblical pastor is eager to engage in service for Christ’s sake. He’s intentional about the example he’s setting for those in his care. He’s loyal and committed to his flock, demonstrated in his generosity in investing in them.
Perhaps above all, a biblical pastor doesn’t derive his identity or his sense of self-worth from the people he leads. He identifies with Christ, the Chief Shepherd, and he gets his job description from the way Jesus loved and cared for people. He is satisfied, not by self-glorification, but by glorifying the One who laid down his life for his sheep.
If you have a pastor like this, show the kind of grateful submission that is also rare in our culture. Don’t sit idly on the sidelines playing master critic. Don’t rebel or be disagreeable just for the sake of providing a different perspective. But also don’t just offer mindless support – like some kind of “Stepford Sheep.” Engage. Volunteer. Ask thoughtful questions and offer another godly perspective. Demonstrate an inclination to follow, support, and encourage a Christlike leader.
Pastors and churches, remember: The church is just humble people leading other humble people to see and savor the Lead Shepherd, Jesus Christ.