This article is addressed to all leaders in the Body of Christ (which we ALL have the potential to be):
"Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away." (1 Peter 5:2-4)
A true leader in the Body of Christ simply recognizes who GOD has placed around him and trusts God on that. His faith is such that he feels no need to constantly market with the goal of building something big or increasing his own sphere of influence.
He trusts God to do that.
A true Christian leader merely shepherds the flock that is among him already.
Using the noun “shepherd” as a verb speaks to how a shepherd feeds, tends and cares for the flock sacrificially. In other words, the sheep are NOT there for the shepherd; rather, the shepherd is there for the sheep.
This is why the next part of this verse says this: “serving as overseers”. The idea of “overseeing” has degenerated in the Church to become a matter of a minister standing over and acting spiritually superior to those they shepherd.
God never intended this. Rather, a shepherd is to be vigilant – always watching for anything that threatens the flock…for any need the flock might have. This was never meant to be a privileged role in the Body of Christ. The word “minister” means “menial servant.”
Yet, many over the years have “entered the ministry” with a mind to how they might benefit at the expense of the people they lead. Others began with pure motives but were drawn off course. We must be ever mindful, attuned to the Holy Spirit and open to being questioned by others lest we be tempted by the devil in these ways.
Peter presents a completely different picture to some of what we see in the Body today. They are to do it “not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to” them. The term “nor as being lords over those entrusted to you” has two main components.
The first has to do with not subjugating others and not being controlling with them. This means that a leader in the Body of Christ does NOT have the right to demand things, to decree behaviors, to boss people around, to talk down to people, or to abuse them in any way.
Leaders are not to act as lords (owners) over anyone else. There is only room for one Lord in Christianity…and that would be Jesus.
The second component to this term is the incredibly deep reality that when a person leads in the Body of Christ whoever he leads has been entrusted to him by God Himself.
Real Christian leadership is a matter of influence – not a matter of power or position.
The Lord connects us. He arranges all this. It is our place to watch for Him and walk in what He arranges in our lives. When we realize we are to lead someone else we must recognize that God has thought this out and planned it to be so. If we don’t recognize that we will either take it for granted or we will proudly assume it is our own doing. Either way, we will not draw on God’s wisdom to practice the relationship and that means it will be our own flesh and the death that flows from that.
Let’s choose to minister life instead.
The next part of this passage is interesting: “but being examples to the flock”.
Why would the Apostle Peter tell us that we are examples to the flock?
It’s because EACH of us has the potential in Christ to lead someone else.
Why would I say this knowing that modern Church-ianity models a system in which only a certain tiny percentage of all Christians deemed to be special and specially trained are to lead others spiritually?
I say it because it is, in great contrast, what the Word of God teaches.
This is what Paul was saying when he said to ALL Christians in Corinth (and says to us now) that God has given us all the same ministry:
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God.” (2 Corinthians 5:17-20)
We cannot ignore that this is said by a former Pharisee who was was born again into Christ. He had treasured the fact that, as a Jewish leader, he had been in the tiny percentage of all Jews that was to minister on behalf of God yet, here in this letter we see him joyfully announcing that all Christians are ministers and ambassadors to the world on behalf of God.
So when Peter, also a Jewish Christian, tells shepherds to be an example to the flock he is literally saying, “Show them how to behave as leaders when it’s their turn.” I know this because the word for “examples” is the Greek word “tupos”, which means “a pattern that is to be used to duplicate something.”
The most neglected aspect to what we call the Great Commission (Matthew 28:1-20) is “make disciples of all the nations (people groups)”.
We’re in a season in which God is generating an organic craving among Christians to be discipled and to disciple others. This is not for the purpose of simply teaching Christians how to behave nicely; rather, it is to equip them to actively advance God’s Kingdom on the earth. In other words, God is equipping us all to be leaders so we can disciple others.
“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
That’s why Peter told people who were actively functioning as spiritual leaders in the early Church to be “examples (patterns) to the flock.” He was reminding them that they were there to inspire others to follow in their footsteps.
This is as exciting a time in the history of the Church as I imagine the Day of Pentecost to have been. God will continue to work through established structures (congregations and ministries, etc.) to advance His Kingdom on the earth. However, I believe we are witnessing a surge of active participation in what Peter called “royal priesthood” and what organized Christianity has often referred to as “the priesthood of the believers.”
“Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture, ‘BEHOLD, I LAY IN ZION A CHIEF CORNERSTONE, ELECT, PRECIOUS, AND HE WHO BELIEVES ON HIM WILL BY NO MEANS BE PUT TO SHAME.’ Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient, ‘THE STONE WHICH THE BUILDERS REJECTED HAS BECOME THE CHIEF CORNERSTONE,’ and ‘A STONE OF STUMBLING AND A ROCK OF OFFENSE.’ They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed. But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.” (1 Peter 2:4-10)
I encourage all reading this to pray about it. Ask the Lord to show you who He has in place to shepherd you. We all need this. Ask Him to show you who you are to watch over and disciple. It may not be time yet….but there will come a time when He entrusts someone to you.
I’m not saying that formal training is unimportant. Part of being discipled is to be taught and trained. I’ve been doing this for a long time and I still need training; there is still much for me to learn. There are also things I have learned that someone else needs.
That is true for you too if Jesus is your Lord.
Imagine the impact we could have on the world if 100% of all Christians were functioning in their inheritance as leaders in the Body of Christ. Envision them equipping everyone they lead to Jesus to do the same. It would be glorious to behold!
It would look like the beginning of the Church.
“So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls. They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles.” (Acts 2:41-43)
“…many of those who had heard the message believed; and the number of the men came to be about five thousand.” (Acts 4:4)
Then it would be said of us what was said of Paul and Silas in Thesslonica: “These who have turned the world upside down have come here too.” (Acts 17:6b)
That is God’s intention for this time; that has always been God’s intention…that we turn the world upside down in His name.
Anyone that has read what was written in this article either is a functioning leader in the Body of Christ at this time……or could be.
"Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock..” (1 Peter 5:2-3)
We’ve been instructed through the Apostle Peter’s words to shepherd those with whom God has connected us, serving them willingly, eagerly and with recognition that God has entrusted them to us.
Peter has told us to do so in such a way as to be an “example”, representing God to the end that we will encourage others to also someday function as leaders of the Body of Christ just as we do.
God ends this passage with a wonderful promise:
“…and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away." (1 Peter 5:4)
We leaders….we shepherds…are, as some call us, “under-shepherds”. We care for the flock among us on behalf of their Lord….their Owner, Jesus. He is the Chief Shepherd.
He’ll be back.
I’m looking forward to that time. Are you? I’m not in this for a crown of glory or, really, for anything other than to express my gratitude to our Lord for saving me.
He will be back.
Let’s purpose in our hearts to join the millions across the globe who intend to operate in a more organic and prolific way in the areas of influence Jesus has provided for them. We’re not building a congregation or a denomination or any subset of the Body of Christ.
We ARE the Church.
The Word of God is clear that there is only one Church and that we already ARE members of it (Ephesians 4:4-5).
Our commitment (Matthew 28:19-20) is that, as we are going, we will ALL make disciples for Jesus, baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit and to teach them all Jesus commanded us to do.
That would be to teach them to do the same for others that we have done for them.
If anyone asks you what I’m up to….you can tell them that.
The time is now.
Are you in?
“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.” (2 Corinthians 13:14)