Friday, July 26

How to lead

Scripture: Isaiah 46-49, 1 Peter 5

1 Peter 5:2–3 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.


Peter writes as an elder (or pastor) to other elders (or pastors—the terms are used interchangably in the New Testament for the same office, along with the term “overseer” or “bishop”).  He tells them to do two things (two verbs) for God’s flock entrusted to their care: shepherd and watch over.  A shepherd provides care, nourishment, leadership, and protection for his flock.  They are also to watch over the flock (GK: episkopeo; we get “episcopal” from it.  The noun form is often translated “overseer or bishop.”).  This term also implies oversight and care.  

Then Peter gives three contrasting modifiers describing how they are to do this.  “Not like this, but like this.” 

1. Not because you must (are forced, under constraint), but willingly, as God wants.  Serve willingly, because you want to, not because you have to. 

2. Not pursuing dishonest gain (shamefully greedy), but eager to serve.  Don’t be motivated by money, but by the eager desire to serve. 

3. Not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.   Don’t exercise dominion and control, but set an example for others to follow.   


Peter tells us how to lead.  Since I’m a pastor, all of this applies directly to my life and ministry.  I’m challenged to serve God’s flock willingly, eagerly and by example.  I’ve seen so many pastors try to lead by powering up, exercising control and domination (and regretfully, I’ve done it too).  And of course, we all know stories of greedy leaders lining their own pockets.  But Peter calls us to lead like Jesus, not top-down, but bottom-up; not serving ourselves, but others; not domineering, but setting a Christlike example. 

By extension, this applies to every believer, for we are all called to serve and care for others, and this is how we do it: willingly, eagerly and by example.  

For consideration: how does this passage change the way you interact with others today?

Prayer: Lord, help me to be a shepherd like You, the Good Shepherd.  Help me to always lead and care for others willingly, eagerly and by example.