“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.” 1 Peter 5:1-2 (ESV)
John shares the story of Peter’s restoration after three times denying that he knew Jesus. As they walked along a beach, three times Jesus asked him if he loved Him, and each time Peter answered ‘yes!’ Two of the three times Jesus replied feed my lambs. The other time Jesus instructed him to care for His sheep (John 22:15-17). It was a pretty clear mandate for Peter to feed and care for Jesus’ flock! I believe this is something Peter took very seriously!
It should be no surprise that later Peter has a few things to instruct others who were called to shepherd God’s flock. In fact, he felt it so strongly that he said ‘I appeal to you!’ Other words for appeal are urge, exhort, entreat, beseech and call for you. These are all very serious and intense words. He wanted to make sure they understood their mandate as well.
Paul also instructed Timothy to guard those entrusted into his care (1Timothy 6:20). Pastors have been called by God to guard, feed and care for Jesus’ sheep. These sheep belong to God! These shepherds (i.e. your pastor) is doing this under the Chief Shepherd’s authority. Each pastor is to lead by example, by sacrifice, with great humility. Peter exhorted these ‘under shepherds’ to not lord over the sheep. Jesus likewise had exhorted His disciples to not act like worldly leaders who used their position to their advantage. Jesus said that those who are leaders in His kingdom are to be servants of all (Matthew 20:25).
It is a great trust that God puts upon pastors to shepherd His sheep. Sadly, many do not follow Peter, Paul or Jesus’ instructions very well! Being a pastor is a great responsibility, a serious calling that needs to be humbly stewarded. The spiritual weight that pastors carry is tremendously more than the sheep realize!
Please pray for your pastor! Ask God to grant him the ability to be the humblest servant in your church! Ask God to give them the endurance and creativity to care for, feed and protect the flock they have been trusted with (that is, your church). Pray that God would meet him in their secret place, and would give him the wisdom and strategies to lead well, and to feed your church the nutrition found in the full word of God! Pray that God would release a new level of joy in his life, his marriage, his family and walk with Jesus! Ask God how you can be an encouragement to your pastor today!