Shepherd the Flock of God
Scripture: 1 Peter 5:1–5
Good morning, Church! My name is Michael. I'm the lead pastor here at Christ the King Church, and we are almost done with our series in the book of 1 Peter.
We're going to finish next week. Wade is going to land the plane next Sunday and the end of 1 Peter. But the theme of the whole book has been hope in the midst of suffering. And today we're talking about church leadership. It's natural for our expectations of leadership to be formed by our own experiences with leaders.
And there's a lot of talk in the world about leadership. It's always a, it's always a hot topic, especially in America. We're really big on leadership. Some people think of leadership as a personality type, you have a certain type of person that's strong and decisive and commanding, maybe a little bossy and we think, oh, that person is a leader.
They have a leader personality. Other times we might think of leadership as a position on an org chart. So it's like you have this position and so because you're responsible for something then you are the leader and It's funny in my kids and when in their elementary school There was a big emphasis on leadership and these little kids It's like you want to be a leader want to train you to be a leader And I find that funny because of like if they're all leading then no one is leading because you have to have some people that are following but anyway, it's a big emphasis in our world.
And in the Christian world, we hear a lot about bad leaders. So, there's always these juicy headlines or stories about, you know, pastors and, you know, abusive leadership or embezzlement or some kind of, sexual scandal and that sort of thing. And you know, in our, in our circles, the trendy label these days is any leader that I don't like, he's narcissistic.
You know, it's just like this blanket label. You can just put on anybody you don't like or a narcissist. If they're strong, decisive, it must be narcissism. And, you know. Five years from now, we'll have a new label, but that's the one that's really popular right now. But in America, and generally we're obsessed with leadership, so many books and seminars and leadership coaches.
And inevitably we, we take our cues from our work environment or from, you know, culture and we project it onto. What the Bible says about leadership. And so, these expectations from the world tend to form what we expect of leaders in the church. And so, the church then becomes sort of a business or even an industry.
We're in the religious industry, the nonprofit religious sector. You know, we think of it in these terms of, of which is a completely business way of thinking of things. And whenever you do that, then good or bad leadership is measured by the results. Good leaders will get you more people, more money, more programs, things will grow.
That's what good leaders do. And bad leaders will do the opposite. And so, in our industry as a church, there's this sense of a customer base and good leaders also will. Take the customer base and the expectations of the customers into account. And so, what we do in our religious nonprofit industry is you have leaders that can give engaging, inspiring talks on spirituality.
And so, the really good leaders then can create these powerful, moving worship experiences. You know, and they can craft this sort of environment that helps people to feel a certain way whenever they come to worship and the great leaders can bring in the money to, you know, and that's how we, that's how churches and Christians often think of leaders.
The thing is, is that in the Bible, the word leader is not the most common word. In fact, it's rarely used. The word leadership is only in the Bible one time in the translation that I use lead as a verb. And there are, you know, people who lead at times, but the idea of leadership is just, it's not really a thing in the Bible, which you have in the, in the scripture is eldership or shepherds.
You know, there are words that have a particular meaning that. That tells us what God expects of leaders, what, what, what they're in need to do. So, I want to look at first Peter five today and a real important text when it comes to the governance and leadership of the church. And this is first Peter five and Peter calls them shepherds and elders in our text.
And as we go through, I'll show you why. So, let's dig in. We're in first Peter chapter five and we'll look at five verses today. Verse one, so I exhort the elders among you as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed, shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly as God would have you not for shameful gain, but eagerly.
Not domineering over those in your charge but being examples to the flock. And when the chief shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.
This is God's word. So, let's start with verse one. Peter says, I exhort the elders among you. So, the, the main target of who he's talking to is a subset of the church that are the elders, and he counts himself among them. He is a fellow elder. So, the apostle Peter, he could have said as an apostle, I command you, but rather he says, I'm among you.
I'm one of you. I'm a fellow elder with you and a witness of the sufferings of Christ as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed. So, the elders, that's who he's talking to. New Testament churches were led by elders, and elders are mature Christian men who were qualified for the office in two areas, their doctrine and their life.
So, you have qualifications of a particular kind of life that is exemplary. So, to think of it this way He will be the kind, the kind of man you would want your sons to become, or you'd want your daughters to marry. But he's the sort of man that is exemplary, and you, you would like for his convictions and his manner of life to be replicated in the church.
And his doctrine, so he has to be sound in doctrine, has to be, you know, somebody who is skilled in the word of God. There's a couple of places where these are described in the New Testament. I'll read one of them for you. There's Titus chapter one, but this one is first Timothy chapter three verses one through seven.
Actually, I don't have it on here, so I'll write it. 1 Timothy 3:1-7. The apostle Paul says the saying is trustworthy. If anyone aspires. To the office of overseer, the word overseer and elder are used interchangeably for the most part in the New Testament. So, overseer, elder, bishop, there's a lot of overlap here.
So, if anyone desire or aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. It's good to desire it. Therefore, an overseer must be, and then here are the qualifications above reproach. The husband of one wife, sober minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, interestingly, in all the qualifications, this is the only one that is a skill.
All of the others are character qualifications, this is the only one that is a skill. Able to teach. Not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well with all dignity, keeping his children submissive. For if someone does not know how to manage his own household.
How will he care for God's church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be thought, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil. So, there are two offices in the church, deacons and elders.
And elders is what we're talking about today, and elders is the highest authority. There is, there is in my view, there's not an additional or higher authority over the elders. The authority of the church is local by the, the elders that God has appointed over that church body and elders in the New Testament is always plural.
So that, that is one among many reasons why. Elders, like the optimal government in a church is a plurality of elders. So, I have multiple men who are appointed to this office, and they serve together. So, what elders do, what is the work that God calls them to? Well, Peter tells us in verse two, it is shepherding.
He uses the word shepherding. So, he's talking to the elders. He is a fellow elder and what he tells them to do is to shepherd the flock of God. So, shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion but willingly as God would have you, not for shameful gain but eagerly.
We'll talk about these contrasting pairs in a moment. But shepherd the flock of God, I want to camp out on this for a moment. The work of an elder is the work of a shepherd. There are a lot of other words related to it. So, the word shepherd in the Greek language here is poimano and in English that would translate literally to tend sheep to be one who tends sheep or to act as a shepherd in Latin the word is pastor “pasture” and that's where we get the English word pastor.
So, a pastor is a shepherd and it's related to the idea of a pasture, you know, a field where the sheep would graze, but these are shepherding words and they're all interconnected. God himself is described as a shepherd. So, in Psalm 23:1, David says, the Lord. is my shepherd. So, God himself is a shepherd.
Also, Isaiah 40:11, speaking of God, it says he will tend his flock like a shepherd. He will gather the lambs in his arms. He will carry them as bosom and gently lead those, lead those that are with young. So, this, this here is a bit of a prophetic word about the Messiah who wants to come.
And the line of David. David was a shepherd. He said the Lord is his shepherd. David was the prototype of shepherding kings, which were rulers in the ancient world. And, but David failed, right? He was not. He was not the perfect shepherd that God's people needed. And so, Isaiah is a prophecy of the Messiah to come who will be the perfect shepherd.
So shepherding work eldership in the church is shepherding work and God entrusts his flock, the care of his flock to human elders, human shepherds. We see this and I'm sure this was on Peter's mind whenever he wrote this, this text in first Peter five. Because we have the story in chapter, in John chapter 21, right after Jesus was resurrected and when he meets the disciples on the shore and he's cooking fish and he's having this conversation with Peter and it's, and when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon, Peter, Simon, son of John, 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. He said to him a second time, Simon, son of John, do you love me? He said to him, yes, Lord, you know that I love you. He said to him, tend my sheep. And he goes on to say it a third time and Peter was hurt that Jesus said it three times, which mirrors Peter's three denials of Jesus.
But this word here, tend my sheep, that's the same Greek word “Poimano”. It is shepherd, shepherd my sheep, tend my flock. And so, Peter, Jesus is having this conversation with Peter, is that if, if you love me, if you love the Lord Jesus, if you love me, and Peter says, of course I do, you know that I do. Then Jesus said, well then shepherd my sheep, express your love for me by shepherding my sheep, being a shepherd over my people.
Well, the, the shepherd has a flock. And so, we, let's go back here to, to verse two, shepherd the flock of God. That's what he does. That is among you. So, this is who is being shepherded. Whenever Jesus says among, or Peter says among you here, he's, it indicates that this is personal work. You're, you're working with people.
You're not merely leading a nonprofit organization. You are working with people. You are shepherding people and being among them indicates that it's, it's very relational work. You know, you're You know, you're not back at headquarters sending out orders about, well, move the flock over to the south pasture.
It's like, no, you're among the people you are working with these people. So being among them means that you would be in their homes. You would spend time with them. You would be around their families. You know, husbands and wives, you know, children, you, you know, the people, there's a relationship there. And since it's impossible for one man to shepherd a large church, depending on the size of it, especially as you know, larger churches, that's, that's one of the other reasons why you need multiple elders.
You need multiple shepherds because it's, you only have so much relational capacity. And so, with a healthy plurality of elders, the church also benefits from their collective wisdom and experience because it's an abundance of counselors, their safety. Because here's the thing, whenever you have church problems, church problems are people problems.
It's not merely budget stuff or, you know, facilities stuff. Those are things that, that's why we have an office of deacon the office of deacon often will tend to some of the more tangible, those sort of matters of, but, but the shepherding work is the work of elders and you. It, it is, it is people, you're working with people and people, church problems are people problems, and every people problem has a context.
So, elders, shepherds that are among the people, they know the problem and they also know the context and that's, that's key. So, what, what happens a lot of times if let's say somebody has marriage problems and so if they have a marriage problem, then what do most people do? They, they find a counselor. Does anybody know a counselor I can go to and, you know, that, that's fine.
I'm not against counseling, but there is a limitation here I want to address. But what they typically do is they go to a counselor and oftentimes the counselor is not somebody they have a personal relationship with. So, you've got a marriage that when you call the counselor, the marriage is really in bad shape most of the time.
You that's like the break glass in case of emergency scenario. That's when you call the counselor. And so, you've got years of accumulated hurt, unforgiveness, pain, patterns of, of unhealth in the marriage. That's when you call the counselor. Then you go to the counselor and the counselor says, okay over the next 60 minutes, tell me what's going on.
And you're like, she's crazy. I mean, what do you do? It's like, it's, it, these things, you cannot be neatly summarized in a one-hour conversation with a total stranger. And there may be issues, I mean there's almost always going to be issues that are not visible to the counselor because all the counselor knows is what the counselee discloses.
And so, if the counselee gives their side of the story. By the end of the counseling session, the counselor's like, yeah, I hate her too. She sounds awful. It's like, well, maybe the counselor doesn't know all the things that's going on, and how the counselee is misrepresenting a situation or is even blind to some other dynamics going on in the relationship.
So, in a church, there's, you have shepherds that are among the people and they, that means that they know context. When they're dealing with people problems, they are able to see context and to address context so they know the husband, they know the wife, they know the kids, they know the social circles, they know the influences, they know the additional stressors on the relationship, they know previous conflicts that have happened, they have all this context in mind and between a plurality of elders, They're able to confer with one another, like, Hey, we're, there's this problem with this, you know, you know, Jones family or whatever, and they can compare notes.
It's like, well, here, here's what I'm aware of. I saw this thing at church the other day, and then, well, I heard about this one thing from the city group, and then I saw how they were interacting in the parking lot, and three or four elders were able to compare. I'm like, okay, we're able to, we're able to see a little bit bigger picture here, so that way they can be shepherded in such a way that.
People can, can be corrected if they're sin, encouraged to give forgiveness, whatever, whatever the needs are of the people, you're able to provide the context to do it. And that's the limitation with counseling. In fact, for most professional counselors, there's a training to maintain professional boundaries.
And if you've ever seen, what about Bob, you know, you got a Bill Murray is like knocking on his door at all hours of the day and night and driving him crazy. And he's like, that's, you don't have boundaries there. And I'm like, well, Bill Murray's character doesn't have a pastor. He, he's got this counselor, and this counselor has to be everything.
He's got to be his guru. And that professional boundary is. It's, it's an intentional, it's by design to not be amongst the people. It's like we have to keep the counseling relationship confined to the hour or two that is part of our sessions. And incidentally, that's what they're paid for. So, I'm, I'm not against counseling, but counseling is a specialized sort of work.
And there, there are times, and you know, the elders of the church here are like, okay, there's a specialty here. We know the problems, we know the situation, and this person needs protracted long-term discipleship in this particular area or this couple, they need a lot of help and we, but they're, they're, the context is known, and we'll recommend it in that case, but that's, that's often the first.
The first step for people and they're, they're left vulnerable and the, and the, and the counseling doesn't, because of the limitations of the actual, of the model of counseling, it's not going to be as helpful as they want. There's somebody that I know that counseling is there. It's like the, the answer for everything.
Everything is counseling. And there's a husband, there's a wife, he has a counselor, she has a counselor, they have a counselor and they're all different counselors. And then, you know, I'm involved as a pastor. And so, there's another kind of counselor there. And so then I would ask, do all of these different counselors know So is there any shared knowledge between them or are you having the exact same conversation multiple different times and you're spending hours a week and hundreds, if not, I mean it was, it was in the thousands, multiple thousands of dollars spent on counseling, but it's no, but they don't all see the whole thing.
It's like nobody's able to really see the context and it, and so that, that's a, that's a big liability of, of the way it, the way it is set up. The thing with elders, I mean, we elders need to have boundaries, personal boundaries, but not the same way that counselors do. A lot of times because you're among people, the people that you're doing counseling with for lack of a better word, counseling, you're counseling your friends.
You're counseling people that, you know, is at your ball game last week with your kids. And you know, we were in small group together and you know, we get coffee. You never want some while as friends and then a problem occurs and now the, you might be taken off your friend hat and putting on your elder hat, but it's a, but you're involved in the person's life such that there is some knowledge of what's going on.
And then that's where you bring. The, the training and the Bible knowledge and the prayer and, and the, the shepherding calling gets applied in that situation. I know you might think, well, that's really messy. And I would say, yes, you're right. It can be really messy and messy is why the qualifications are so important.
Anybody, you know, people talk to their friends all the time, their Christian friends. There is a priesthood of believers and there's a shared wisdom in the body of Christ. But whenever somebody speaks, and they do so on behalf of the church. They do so with, from the office of elder, there's an authority behind it.
And you want the authority to know it's like, okay, the person who is speaking with a, with a degree of authority into the situation, this is a man that is affirmed by the church that their doctrine is sound, and their life is exemplary. So, the qualifications are important, because if he doesn't have qualifications, then you wouldn't listen to him more than you would anyone else.
So that's, that's working together in a plurality of elders and within a community that is being among the people, and it is shepherding work that is applied in a way that I think is Much more helpful than just finding a counselor. What about the, the work that they do? There's, there are three different contrast contrasting pairs.
And the first one is exercising oversight. The oversight is oversight being like the, the rule, the authority. So, this is, this is a general, a general description of what they do. And then. Not under compulsion, but willingly. So, there's a way they don't rule and the way that they do rule, but the exercising oversight is over the whole thing.
So, in the New Testament, elder and overseer, they, there's a lot of overlap. And in the ancient world kings and rulers were considered shepherds. So, they would lead people to righteousness and justice. That was the aim of their leadership. And so good kings and rulers were good shepherds. They would lead people on the path of obedience to God.
So, Ezekiel 37:24 describes a good shepherd and David being sort of the, the prototype or the, the symbol of this. And he says, my servant, David. Now, this is long after the time of David. So, he's talking about a descendant, physical descendant of David, but a messianic figure in the line of David.
That's why he calls him a servant, David. But he says, my servant, David shall be king over them. And he's talking about Christ, and they shall all have one shepherd. So, the king is a shepherd. And what do they do? Well, the king shepherd leads them to walk in my rules and to be careful to obey my statutes.
So, a good shepherd is like a good king, and a good king leads people on a path of righteousness and obedience. So, good elders lead people to obey God. That is, that is, they're, they're, they're pushing people, they're leading from the front, and they're also sort of prompting and urging from behind and they're correcting and, and that sort of thing to, to help people walk in a path of obedience and they'll enforce it with discipline of the church.
Bad elders. Lead people astray or they are just neglectful on their duty. They neglect the flock, or they abandon the flock altogether There's another text in Ezekiel 34 talks about when this happens. He's saying they so they referring to the sheep. They were scattered Because there was no shepherd and they, the sheep, they became food for all the wild beasts.
So, they were vulnerable to predators who would prey on the people. My sheep were scattered. They wandered all over the mountains and on every high hill. My sheep were scattered over all the face of the earth with none to search or seek for them. So, this is a prophetic word of God looking at his people, of his, of his nation, of his nation of Israel as a pasture.
And he's like, I've got sheep that are just scattered all over the place because my, my shepherds are derelict in their duty. They're bad shepherds. They're not leading properly. Sin is like leaven that can spread. So, disobedience is something that has to be, that's part of the shepherd's work is to, is to keep people on this path of obedience and bad shepherds.
They neglect that. And so, the elders that are vested with this authority to correct error to protect the church. So, it's like a good elders doing the workers. It's like an immune system of the body. The teaching and the preaching and the correcting and all the work that they do. It creates a sense of cultural expectations within a church body.
This is here is how we operate. Here's how we, how we obey God. And there's an expectation that is corporate. Good elders lead people there, bad elders neglect those duties. And so, this idea of, of ruling is reflected also in 1 Timothy 5. Where Timothy, where Paul says to Timothy, let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching.
So, the rule is largely a ministry of preaching and teaching, and the double honor is a, is a reference to compensation. So, it's a, you know, you, you make sure they're, they're adequately compensated for their work. But the idea here is that the, that is a, that's the oversight that they exercise, there is a ruling that they do.
And incidentally, this is reflected in our new bylaws that, you know, for those of you who are members, we've sent them out to him, we'll have a. What is today? We'll have a meeting about it next Sunday after church after the potluck and then we'll have a meeting to talk about it. But the, this language of having teaching elders and ruling elders is, you know, we've, we've gotten this from other churches that have, have a long tradition of identifying elders this way.
Teaching elders are paid by the church. They're compensated. And you also have ruling elders, and they rule, but it is the ruling is done as unpaid elders. So, it's not their vocation. It is something that they do as a service to the church on a volunteer basis. But in either case, what they do is lead people to safe pasture and they lay down their lives for the sake of the sheep.
So back-to-back to verses two and three. We have these, this contrast, not under compulsion, but willingly, that's the first contrast. You don't want elders who don't want to be elders. You don't want anybody that's sort of forced into serving, you don't want to have like a draft, you know, like in the military.
You don't want to do like a draft for eldership because you're going to end up with bad elders that way because they, they're not serving because they want to. We saw the verse earlier in first Timothy three, where if anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires. A noble task. So it is a desire you want elders who want to be elders now That doesn't mean everybody who wants it would be appointed because there's a an examination and for their qualifications But you certainly don't want anybody being an elder who is unwilling You want them you want men who love God and they love God's people and they're eager to serve And they have the disposition and the life and the doctrine that is suitable to the task So these are men of conviction They, they, they fear God.
They're men of courage and strength; their aim is not merely at the people, but rather for the ultimate good of the people, which is for the glory of God. So, you want elders that are thinking, I want Christ to be formed in these people. I want them to be. Protected from harm. I want to protect their Children and their families from harm and harm isn't merely having a security team in the, you know, the church on Sunday morning, but it is spiritual harm.
It is the harm that would come about by sin. By their own sin, or the sin of others in the church. And so, they're always on the lookout for ways that they need to, to deal with the leaven in the church. So often elders are going to be more visible. They're, they're out in front and as such, they're going to be more often targeted, especially if they are doing their work faithfully, they'll be saying things and doing things that could draw attention from opponents.
This is, it's no accident that this text is at the end of the book of first Peter when he's been talking about suffering throughout the whole book. And so, when he gets to the point about elders, he's talking about, he's, he's saying like you want the sort of leaders. that can, that can lead in such a way that will suffer faithfully if called upon.
And oftentimes they will because of what they say and what they do. So, you don't want guys that are unwilling. You want men that are, they have this put me in the game coach kind of mentality. You know, they're ready. They're eager. And they, they desire it and not men that would rather avoid the spotlight or avoid the headaches that come along with it.
So, you want elders who want to be elders. And then secondly, you want elders who want to be elders for the right reasons. So, here's the next one, not for shameful gain, but eagerly. So, you want them, want men who want to be elders and for the right reason. I saw a headline this week kind of floored me.
There's this pastor in Colorado and he ran a cryptocurrency scam on his church. And the scam was I guess it was like a made-up thing. I created this cryptocurrency and people invested in it knowing that it would, you know, that it would fail. And what he said, he took advantage of his, his ministry position as an elder, as a, as a pastor of a church, people look to him for authority, for leadership
They trusted him. And so, when he says, hey, invest in this thing, then they're like, well, we're going to do what our pastor says. And it was a scam. And the most appalling thing is that he said, the Lord told us to do this. He ended up getting a million dollars out of his people. And he did it to remodel his home.
And he said, the Lord told him to do it. And he and his wife both were charged with creating and selling a cryptocurrency that was a fraud. Some men want to be elders for the wrong reasons. And it's not just for financial gain. There are plenty of bad reasons. Some guys think ministry is fun. Yeah, they're perks.
I mean, I, I love what I do. It's like, I would not, there's nothing else I can think of. I'd rather do more than what I do. So, it is enjoyable, but some people do it because they think it's fun and that's not a good reason to do it. Or they think, you know, if it's like a staff thing that, well, if you're. If you're a pastor in a church, then you get paid to have devotions all the time, you know, hang out in coffee shops, you know, read some Bible, read some theology, hang out with your friends coming in.
And it just seems like who wouldn't want to do that? You know, just hang out with your buddies all day. Jesus calls men like this “hirelings”. They're, they're not shepherds, they are people who are doing it for the wrong reason. And whenever trial comes, whenever danger comes, they scatter, they flee and abandon the flock.
And so, Jesus talked about this in John 10:12. And you could read the whole, whole chapter. John 10 is wonderful, but he says, he who is a hired hand and not a shepherd. So, we're talking about. Church leaders that are, they don't have the heart of a shepherd, rather they're hirelings, who does not own the sheep.
So, he has no sense of it being personally invested in the flock. He sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees. And the wolf snatches them and scatters them. That, this, this is horrible. I mean, like I, I get angry honestly when I read this text because I'm like, this is so common. Because there are God's people.
I mean, just think about this. If you, let's think if you're like you’ve got your kids, and you go on a date with your spouse and you bring a babysitter over. And then while you happen to be out, there was an intruder that was breaking into your home. And the babysitter's like, there's an intruder here.
I'm getting the heck out of Dodge. And so they just bolt. And leave the kids there vulnerable to be attacked by the intruder. You would be absolutely livid. That somebody abandoned their post. I'm like, that's, that's, you don't, that's, but they do it because they don't care about the kids. They're not their kids.
Now a mother or father, it's like you're going to stay there and you're going to defend the children because you love your children. And that's the heart of a shepherd. The heart of a shepherd is the heart of a father. But a lot of people that are hirelings in the church, they think if I say this thing, if I oppose this cultural sin, if I teach something that I know people in the church will get upset about, then life is going to be miserable for me.
And I don't want life to be miserable for me, so I'm not going to do it. And that's the heart of a hireling because if God said it, if God commanded it, then it's for the good of his people. And God's shepherds need to uphold what is for the good of God's people, even if it comes at a personal cost to the messenger.
But hirelings, they're not ultimately motivated by what does the shepherd, the chief shepherd, God himself, what does God himself want? They're thinking save my skin work, you know, do what's comfortable for me. And Jesus has some, some pretty, pretty harsh words for people like this. They're company men, and a company man is somebody who's unwilling to suffer for what he believes.
All right. The next one here. Not domineering over those in your charge but being examples to the flock.
So not domineering. Some men are drawn to eldership because they love control. They're control power. They're power hungry, control freaks. And of all the ways that there are in the world to control and manipulate people. Controlling and manipulating people with religion has got to be the worst. Because you’re controlling and your manipulation comes with a sense of divine authority.
And that puts people's eternal souls in jeopardy. So it is, Peter's not opposing strong, decisive leadership. So, if, if somebody You know, if the church does discipline and correct somebody, rebuke somebody, if somebody says, you're not going to do this for this reason, whatever, if elders do something that is decisive and strong and makes a tough call, that's not domineering.
What domineering is, is something that is coercive and it is controlling, overly manipulative. It is using force to get people to go their way. Domineering leadership would be like binding somebody's conscience in, in ways that is not commanded by scripture. So, like they would, they would twist Bible verses to make people do things that they want them to do that isn't warranted biblically.
That is domineering. They, they turn their preferences. into commandments for God's people and impose it on them in a way that binds their consciences. So, Peter says, not domineering over those in your charge. So that's, that's not, we don't do it that way, but being examples to the flock. And it's interesting that being an example is the contrast to domineering.
So good shepherds will lead by example. They walk the walk. They practice what they preach. And in any area where they fail to do so, they've, they acknowledge it as a, as a matter of grace without diminishing the standard. But even then is leading by example, because that's the way we all walk the Christian life in any way.
There are things that I'll preach about or talk about that. I personally, I'm like, you know, I need to grow in this area. You know I need to forgive or I've, you know, I need to. you know, be more patient or whatever. I might preach what is the standard, but also know that I am, I am under the standard, and I walk by grace also like everyone else.
But that even still, that's, that's how you lead by example. You acknowledge failure when necessary. But most eldership work is done in the ministry of preaching and teaching. There's exhortation, there's correcting from the Bible. And so whenever, so it's like even here, it's like I'm leading this morning, but leading.
in the ministry of the word. So, it's not like you all do what I want you to do, but rather here's what, here's what I see in scripture based on the way I've studied it and tried to pray through and apply it faithfully. And then communicate that to you as words of exhortation. And that's leading, but it's not, it's not commanding people to just do something the way that somebody.
So, there's general exhortations, general call to obey Christ. There's examples and practical applications, and that's sufficient for the majority of ministry. Only occasionally is it ever necessary to just straight up tell people what to do. I mean, it can happen. I mean, I've done it, but it's, that is pretty rare.
At least in my ministry, it's, it's pretty rare to just straight up. This is what I need you to do. I need you to submit to church authority on this one. I can count on one hand the times that I've done that, and I can only think of two. But that's, that's not being domineering. Alright, verse four, we're done here.
And when the chief shepherd appeared, I gotta tell you this, this verse, it's weird to prepare to preach a sermon, really, to two people in the church, me and Eric. But it's So that was, that was a little weird and just, I feel the, I feel the weight of it because I see my own, my own, you know, weakness and frailty and all of this.
And this verse really comforted me, encouraged me greatly. Verse four, when the chief shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. And the “you” he's talking about here is the elders. When the chief shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. This is the only place in the New Testament where Jesus is called a chief shepherd.
Because Jesus is the shepherd. He is the good shepherd. We know that. But Jesus is also the chief shepherd. John 10:11, Jesus says, I am the good shepherd, and the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. So, Jesus is the Good Shepherd, but He's also the Chief Shepherd. And so, every human shepherd, every human elder, reports to and is under the authority of the Chief Shepherd.
And as such, they are servants. They are servants accountable to and under the authority of the Chief Shepherd. They're not autocrats. They, they serve. The chief, their king, the Lord Jesus Christ. And then, there is this comfort knowing that when he appears, and he will, he brings a reward with him. And those men who faithfully shepherd the church, there will be, there will be a reward for them.
That is, he calls it an unfading crown of glory, which, I think it's metaphorical, I don't think there's actually a literal crown that he brings, but assuming that's metaphorical, the crown is a There's some glory in it. There's some reward in it for the men who do this. And that's just, it's incredibly comforting to me, especially when you're preaching on a subject that highlights areas that can make you tend to feel your weakness and failures.
But Jesus will reward his shepherds with an unfading crown of glory. And that is, that is the reward for the faithful work that they do. Last verse. Likewise, you who are younger.
I'm not going to say much on this here because Wade is going to preach on the topic of humility a lot of next week, but I just want to, I'll mention these two exhortations here. He talks about younger people being subject to the elders. And then everyone being clothed with humility. The relationship between shepherd and sheep is governed by a spirit of humility all around the shepherds are needed to act in humility and the sheep are called all of you clothe yourselves with humility.
And that is a sense of mutual respect between the two. So, in a community, pride is like sand in the gears that slows down and makes things difficult and, and tense friction. You have personal agendas and competition and suspicion that takes over when people are acting pridefully. But whenever people are clothed with humility, as Peter says here, that's like oil in the gears.
It makes things run smoothly. You have respect for one another, love for one another, relationships can, can be more harmonious. And so, these three balancing exhortations that we saw in verses three and four, they demonstrate a healthy and humble exercise of church authority. He's saying this, this is how elders act.
You're, you're doing it willingly. You're being examples, that sort of thing. And then on everybody's closed with humility. So, it's, there is a, there is a sense of everybody is behaving like Christ would have us behave in the operation of church authority. And when that happens. Things go smoother, and the whole church is built up in that, in that way.
So, like elders, I've mentioned this already, elders rarely have to assert direct authority. Those under the authority rarely should give them reason to do so. And so, I think, you know, a good marriage can, can be, you know, a parallel here. And so, in a bad marriage, you have a husband that is always talking about how he's the head of the home and his wife needs to submit to him.
If so, if a husband's talking that way all the time and always like saying that to his wife, like, I need you to submit to me, that's the, that's an indicator that something is wrong in the marriage. There's a problem there. And I think the same is true in a church. If you have elders that are all the time saying, hey, you got to submit to us.
Submit to us, everybody, you know, follow our lead, don't you disobey. I mean, that's, if, if elders are always acting that way, you know, there's a problem. And if members in the church are always behaving in ways that kind of prompt the elders to have to speak more authoritatively, you know that there's a problem in the congregation.
But in a healthy relationship and healthy marriage, he knows it, she knows it, and she delights to do it. She's glad to submit to her husband, he delights to provide leadership and headship and to, to, to give direction to the family. And it doesn't have to be the topic of conversation, it could be the way they operate naturally.
And in a healthy church, I think it's the same. Where elders are leading, the authority is there, it's known, acknowledged, and they lead with it, and the church gladly follows it. And they're not, they're not giving reason to, to, to prompt any need for a more direct exercise of authority. And I think that, that is a spirit of humility from the eldership and from the congregation in this relationship between shepherd and the sheep.
So, I'll finish with this on a, just on a personal note. Serving the church as an elder, it does highlight weakness because I, anytime I have to preach on eldership, I'm just like, There's, there's a sense that it's like, I, do I live up to what I'm talking about? I hope so. But I want to be faithful, but also just that you're more aware of just your weaknesses, things where you fail, things where you wish you could have done better.
I mean, I wish I could have a do over that sort of thing. It happens a lot. And I just, I'm so thankful for this church. And it is, it is fun. I do enjoy it. That's not why I do it, but I do enjoy it because I enjoy the people. I enjoy you. I love this church. I love all of you. And it is a, it is just a privilege beyond words to be able to serve the church in this way to, to get to do what I do.
And knowing that the people of this church body surpassed me in many ways the godliness, the faithfulness, the courage, the holiness, the gifts, the skills, the knowledge of scripture theology, I'm just like, I'm blown away by what I observe. In this church body and that that makes it such a thrill and it's a real delight.
I just want to commend you and to praise the Lord for this church for you and it's motivating. to know that God, there is a reward for the elders of the church for shepherding. And so that, that really encourages me that the thing that is such a privilege and a joy and a delight to do is something also that there's a reward in it.
So that just, I'm just really grateful for that. You can do a great kindness to the current and future elders of the church by praying for. I know many of you do. I hear this a lot. Many of you already do. You pray for the elders regularly, some even daily. And I thank you for doing that. Pray that God would help us to be faithful in such a way that we would receive that reward that verse four talks about pray that God would give us wisdom and how we lead.
Pray that God would give us courage to be bold and outspoken that we would always defend the truth of scripture, the truth of the gospel. And pray that God would strengthen us for the long haul, you know, I want to finish well and pray that God would strengthen all of our elders to, to faithfully minister and finish well.
Let's pray. Lord Jesus, you are the chief shepherd. You are the good shepherd. We give you all praise. We worship you. We thank you that this is how you have built your church and that you are the one that builds your church. It is not us. It is not a leader. It is not any particular person, but it is Jesus Christ the Lord that builds the church.
The gates of hell do not prevail against it, and you appoint shepherds to lead it, and these are the sheep of your pasture. And so, Lord, I pray for your people here. I pray for your sheep that you will, you will give them safe pasture using your appointed means of doing so, which is shepherds in the church.
I pray God that you will protect the shepherds and give them the faithfulness and the courage and the humility and the wisdom to lead as you would have them do so. Thank you, Jesus, that you as the chief shepherd laid down your life for the sheep as we celebrate this every week at the table where your body was broken, and your blood was spilled on our behalf.
May we never forget the horrible cost that you paid as our shepherd for us to become your sheep. So, we glorify and worship and praise your name, and we pray all these things in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.