There is an ever-present danger lurking nearby for everyone who's involved in leading others, even in the church.
John Henry Jowett again wrote from years of pastoral experience a hundred years ago, proving by the way that something's never changed. Pride lurks at the heels of power. Even a little authority is prone to turn someone's walk into a strut.
Well said. There's no place in ministry, there's no place in the flock for any of us to strut. The mantle of leadership is not easy. Obviously, there's the burden of the responsibility for the role.
But there's also the personal challenge to maintain a high standard of character. Those entrusted with leadership roles need to be people with high standards. The Apostle Peter wanted to make sure that leaders in the church led well.
He wanted them to remember to lead with integrity. Stephen's looking at that passage of scripture today, here on Wisdom for the Heart. We're in 1 Peter chapter 5, and Stephen's called this message, The Shepherd's Heart. If you were to travel back to the middle part of the first century, you would observe the church in the throes of experiencing difficulty and growing danger.
The fires of unrest and uncertainty would, in fact, in a matter of a few years break into an inferno of persecution against them. Much of the apostolic energy of Paul and Peter, James and others, is devoted to developing and organizing and teaching the church on how to survive difficult times. Both Paul and Peter specifically urged men who wore the mantle of shepherd to captain the vessel, to pilot the plane, or in New Testament terminology, to shepherd the flock, to put everything on the line, including their own safety for the sake of the church. Now in our last session together in Peter's first letter, and I invite you to turn back there, we uncovered the job description of these men, focusing primarily on the elder bishop, pastor, that office of leadership in the church.
We discovered together, which was known in the New Testament by three terms, those terms appear, in fact, in this text, not obviously, they're in the original language. The term elder, presbuteros, refers or relates to his leading, the flock. The term pastor or poimane refers to feeding the flock, literally pastoring, pasturing, a wooden translation, the flock.
And the term bishop or episcopas, which related to ruling the flock. Now in this letter that we've been studying together, Peter has been encouraging the church at large to stand strong in faith and hope during difficult times. But now as this chapter opens, this paragraph opens, Peter kind of pulls over on the side of the road, as it were, and with a few choice, emotional, highly charged comments, speaks personally to the elders of the early church.
He writes again in verse one, therefore, I exhort the elders among you as fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ and apartheid are also of the glory that is to be revealed. Shepherd the flock of God among you, tend the sheep, feed the flock, care for the church. And what you might expect Peter to do next is kind of give the nitty gritty of the daily exercise of what it means to do that. Whether it's rest on Monday, visit on Tuesday, disciple on Wednesday, study on Thursday, pray on Friday, write your sermon on Saturday.
But instead of focusing on the calendar, what Peter does is focus on the character. Instead of focusing on the pastor's schedule, he focuses on the pastor's spirit. And he essentially lays out for the elder team of every local church to this day what I want to call, for the sake of an outline, three principles of shepherding the flock. So let me give you the first principle and then we'll read the text.
Here it is. First, ministry does not depend on coerciveness but willingness. Notice further in verse two, exercising oversight not under compulsion but voluntarily according to the will of God.
Not under compulsion literally means not to be compelled by force. The pastor elder bishop is not drafted. They volunteer and they volunteer with a sense of divine calling as Peter writes it here, according to the will of God. No one is forced into this kind of ministry role.
In other words, this ministry role is something that God, according to his will, has planted in your heart. You don't make someone, you don't talk someone into becoming a shepherd. Even here at shepherds theological seminary hosted by our church on this campus, faculty members fully understand that the shepherd seminary or any seminary doesn't make shepherds. We don't call shepherds in the ministry. Their training and their education and their master's degrees don't make them shepherds either. We can't make someone a pastor elder bishop.
God does that. Wanting to become a shepherd is implanted in their hearts by the will of God. And it is a great danger to the church should any man assume the office who isn't doing it according to the will of God but by their own will or their parents will.
Or I come from a long line, you ought to hear about my great grandfather. Wanting to become this is implanted in their hearts by God. What this means is that no one can make men into ministers. We merely train men for that for which God has made them. How can you tell if God is making someone by doing that in their heart?
Well for one thing Peter implies a volume of truth here as he reveals the man's heart and spirit. You discover in that man that even though shepherding is going to involve a lifetime of study, long hours, burying other people's burdens, the heartache and tears as well as joys and victories of ministry. You find these men actually willingly volunteering.
They aren't forced into it, they are outfitted for it by God. By the way just because elders volunteer some unpaid, some full-time paid, that doesn't mean it's easy for them to fulfill it. In fact for all of you who serve and we're going to have hundreds and hundreds of people who are going to serve Christ by serving the church today. Those of you who served in some way in the church you know it as well.
You're not volunteering for that role because it's easy or because it's comfortable. Or it just really jazzes you up whenever you finish teaching that class of third graders. People might be led to believe that for the pastor, elder bishop, well that just comes easy. I'm reading for my own soul from Charles Spurgeon's classic work entitled lectures to my students.
Just a few pages a day, sometimes just a few pages a week, it just sits there on my stand. You may be aware that Spurgeon had a college hosted in his church, the Metropolitan Tabernacle for pastoral training in London during the 1800s. College then is tantamount to seminary now, just the terminology has changed. He taught his students every Friday afternoon and those lectures were eventually compiled in a book on pastoring entitled lectures to my students. One particular chapter he humorously entitled the minister's fainting fits, which he rather transparently and candidly wrote and encouraged these men with the truth. He said this, fits of depression come over most of us. Usually cheerful as we may be, we must at intervals be cast down. The strong are not always vigorous, the wise are not always prepared, the joyous are not always happy.
There may be among us men of iron, but surely the rust frets even us. Willingness does not mean easiness. And Peter is sending out a description. In fact, think about it this way, he's giving the job description of the pastor, bishop, elder to the congregation.
Can you imagine your job being known by every other employee at the company where you work? He's giving this to the body and I think in that is healthy accountability. And he's telling us right away that a faithful elder is going to remain at his post not because he's forced to enter it, not because he's compelled, not because it's easy, but because he is simply willing to follow the will of God. So it does not depend on coerciveness, but willingness. Secondly, motives are not driven by greediness, but eagerness. Motives are not driven by greediness, but eagerness.
Notice again verse 2, shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily according to the will of God. Now notice, and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness. Now the term Peter uses for eagerness is a strong term that means enthusiasm. It means devoted zeal. In this context, elders serve the flock with enthusiasm and devoted zeal. And it is tragic, wouldn't it be for a flock to follow leaders who really don't want to do it, who have no zeal, no enthusiasm, who just show up, clock in, and go home. They get out of bed every morning ready for another day at it, ready to go. He contrasts eagerness, notice here, with greediness.
In other words, what is it that does fire up your engine? Is it to feed the flock or to fleece the flock? Like the apostle Paul wrote to Timothy, a young pastor warning him that an elder must not be a lover of money, 1 Timothy 3. He wrote to Titus and described an elder as someone who is not greedy for gain.
Titus 1.7, in fact he delivered his own personal testimony, Paul did, in Acts chapter 20 verse 33, that he never in his ministry coveted anybody's silver or gold. The question, hey, what's in it for me, is the question of a hireling who does what he does in guarding the flock only because he's paid. But when the wolves appear, he's going to run. When the boat begins to tip over, he's going to get out of there, never mind anybody else.
You know, when the plane gets on fire, well, hey, that exit door is closest to me, the pilot, I'm the first one out. When you ask that kind of question, the term Peter uses for sorted gain is actually elastic. It is a word that can refer to more than money. It's a word that can refer to a greed, a greediness for a following, a greediness for approval, a hunger for attention or comfort. Pastor Henry Jowett who lived during Spurgeon's Day wrote a hundred years ago, there's a wonderful little commenter on 1 Peter, he said this, I am not sure which of the two is worse in a pastor, he who hungers for money or he who thirsts for applause.
Both are dangerous. Peter is describing here a man to whom the flock matters, it isn't a job, it isn't a paycheck, it isn't perks of power, it isn't approval, it isn't applause, it isn't attention, none of that is guaranteed anyway. Whether or not the perks and the applause and the benefits ever come into play, he's in this for life. He gets out of bed in the morning with his internal desire to obey Christ in fulfilling the will of God who outfitted him, fashioned him for this ministry. Now that doesn't mean the elder pastor bishop is never discouraged, as Spurgeon wrote, never have days when life isn't so energetic or the ministry less than enthusiastic.
This phrase Peter uses is sort of a big picture description. This is sort of an over the long haul kind of word for the tone, the spirit, the attitude of the elder. His ministry does not depend on coerciveness but willingness, his motives are not driven by greediness but eagerness. Third, his mannerisms are not displayed through haughtiness but selflessness. As Peter writes in verse 3, nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge.
Stop for a moment, this is interesting. Elders are indeed given a divine allotment of sheep. It isn't up to the shepherd to say I want 100 more or I'd like 50 less. That's the work of Christ who builds the church, each individual church. And Peter informs them here of this good reminder, whoever it is you're leading, they were allotted to you by God.
It's a healthy perspective. Those, you could translate it, those entrusted to you. So the elder is entrusted with the charge. The elder is given the care of a particular flock and he is to be devoted to that flock.
And it is discouraging and despairing for a flock to have elders or an elder pastor bishop that they know really doesn't care about them. I'm not going to mention his name, he's deceased but I have his books on my shelf. You would highly revere and respect him as a theologian and author and everything he writes I underline. But this was in the later years of his ministry where he ended up. In fact the last church he took, and he took several, the last church he took he took only if the elders that brought him on agreed that he would not have to do anything related to people. He said I want to study and I want to write and I want to preach my sermons and that's it.
And they actually agreed. And he would preach a sermon and he would go down the hall during the benediction and he'd hide in the nursery room until the church had left. You also observe in this text that leading the flock is not the same thing as lording over the flock. In fact the word translated lording over is a compound term made up of combining the verb to control with the preposition translated down. To control down, to rule down.
This relates to a heavy-handed leadership. The church is not a herd of cattle to be driven and whipped. It is a flock of sheep to be led. Peter no doubt draws here from the Judean hillsides where he has often seen shepherds customarily walking in front of the flock calling the sheep after him. Yes the flock needs to be challenged and nudged and disciplined and warned and rebuked and taught. It's also true the flock is never allowed to go wherever the flock wants to go. In fact I've seen that tragedy play out where the church is trying to rule and govern itself without leadership. But the elder, pastor, bishop is out in front.
Why? Peter tells us you're out in front not so that you can provide an example of haughtiness, not so you can say hey I'm out front. You know look at me. But humility, so undergirding this is obviously the love of Christ for the flock. It isn't even loving preaching.
It isn't even loving teaching. I see a lot of that. Well why do you do what you do? Well I love to preach.
Well I do too. But that isn't it. Loving to preach is vastly different than loving those to whom you preach. In fact I can remember years ago back in the middle school when the church was young and I was too. And I had a man leave a church and come to ours who was a gifted teacher and he began to teach one of our Sunday school classes, very gifted. But even though I was much younger than him, about 20 years younger, it became apparent to me that he may have left the other church because he didn't get the platform he wanted and he'd come here to this one. That he loved to teach more than he loved the flock that he taught. I remember him coming into my office we rented and I had sort of drummed up the courage. I was barely 30.
He was in his early 50s. And he said look I got my calendar and I'm ready to teach next fall. Tell me what you want me to do.
And I kind of pushed back from my desk and I said hey let me ask you this. Do you simply love to teach or do you love this flock that you're teaching? And he said immediately hey I just love to teach. Let me tell you I'm going to teach anywhere. I said well I can appreciate that but I'm really praying that God will give us men who want to teach this flock. Who will give their lives to this flock.
And he kind of went well I don't know about that. And I said well you're not going to teach. And he left the church. This is a trust to whom the elder pastor bishop has been given from God to care for and to lead and haughtiness has no place in it.
A desire to be up front has no place in it. In fact it is damaging to the flock. In fact notice how Peter underscores that at the heart of shepherding is a ministry of modeling. Notice this he writes proving to be examples to the flock.
Paul wrote to Pastor Timothy again and told him to set an example, same word, for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith, in purity. Do you really want to be that? Do you really want to be out front? Well if you're out front then you accept all the burdens related to being an example in life, in faith, in purity.
And of course being an example would follow the Lord, the good shepherd who laid aside all his power, imagine that power, who laid aside his glory, imagine his glory and came humbling himself and he became, Philippians 2, a servant. See Peter knows the danger of being full of himself. Just watch me. Lord you haven't seen anything yet.
Just step back and watch. He knows the pitfalls when someone is given position and power and a pedestal of public ministry that no one deserves. But they begin to face incredible temptations related to pride.
John Henry Jowett again wrote from years of pastoral experience a hundred years ago proving by the way that something's never changed. Pride lurks at the heels of power. Even a little authority is prone to turn someone's walk into a strut.
Well said. There's no place in ministry, there's no place in the flock for any of us to strut. Even in preaching or teaching a true shepherd doesn't just love to preach, he loves the people in whom he preaches. And with that future in mind where we will one day stand before the chief shepherd, notice two incentives for shepherding the flock. First the chief shepherds return, verse four, and when the chief shepherd appears, here's that incentive for every pastor, elder, bishop, the chief shepherd is going to appear. By the way, I find it interesting that although the elder isn't to be motivated by duty or greed or perks or power, there is a proper incentive. In fact, the apostles' teaching throughout the New Testament for both shepherds and sheep is this future coming of Christ should shape the way we live now.
And this isn't done as a scare tactic. He's coming. It certainly can include that, but Peter isn't trying to scare elders into keeping their noses clean like maybe your parents did when you were growing up. He said, you know, finish your homework before we get home. We're leaving. We're not telling you when we're getting back, but your homework better be done when we get back.
And you just do your homework. It's not Peter's idea here. He's using this incentive for shepherds who no doubt face their own failures, their own shortcomings. They know the failures and shortcomings of the flock, but here's the remedy. Be encouraged with anticipation to stay at that ship, that wheel, that plane, that flock, because at any moment the Lord can appear and he calls him here the chief shepherd. The only time this appears in the New Testament.
Why? I think he's implying because the chief shepherd, the perfect shepherd is going to come and finish what none of you could ever finish. None of you under shepherds could ever complete.
None of you could ever fulfill. He will come and he will complete the church. He will perfect the church. He will glorify the flock as he calls her home. He's coming.
You just guide her and guard her because ultimately you're going to hand her off to the chief shepherd. When he comes, Peter highlights not only the chief shepherd's return, he mentions secondly the chief shepherd's reward. You will receive the unfading crown of glory. It's never going to fade away. We're going to enjoy the glory of what the crown represents. It is glory we do not deserve.
It is glory we did not earn. Maybe, and this is my imagination here, but perhaps the elders of the church will once again take the lead and provide the example by being the first to take our crowns and place them at the feet of Jesus. As every true elder knows, he was enabled by Christ. He was gifted by Christ. He was called by Christ, encouraged by Christ, entrusted sheep to him by Christ.
He deserves then nothing. He gives everything to the chief shepherd. Peter says don't forget that coming day when imperfect shepherds who led imperfect sheep, given accounting and are rewarded by the perfect shepherd who welcomes the sheep home.
This is Wisdom for the Heart with Stephen Davey. In addition to pastoring his own church, Stephen's committed to investing in other church leaders. One of the ways he's doing that is through an annual conference for pastors and church leaders called the Shepherds 360 National Church Leaders Conference. That event is held every October. Now, I know that event is a long ways off, but since it involves some travel as well as several days here in the Raleigh area, I wanted to make you aware of it now so that you can make plans. You can learn more at shepherds360.org. I'm glad you joined us today, and I hope you'll be back next time for more Wisdom for the Heart.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-08 01:28:59 / 2023-03-08 01:38:23 / 9