Why Elders – Part 2
Today we will continue talking about elders especially looking at one passage: 1 Peter 5:1-5
1 Peter 5:1–5 (NIV84) — 1 To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ’s sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed: 2 Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; 3 not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. 4 And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away. 5 Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older.
The elders have a great responsibility to lead the flock and their greatest responsibility is the spiritual health of the church. Notice Peter’s urgency in verse 1 – I appeal to you. This is important!
As Peter writes this I wonder if Peter is recalling a conversation he had with Jesus:
John 21:15–17 (NIV) — 15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” 16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” 17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.”
Jesus is telling Peter to make sure my followers are well fed and safe from spiritual harm. He tells him, “Peter, I’m going to need people like you.” And as Peter writes this letter he is getting a little older and knows others are needed to fill his shoes.
Then he gives the elders some ways to do this, attitudes they need to have. These are qualities we need to be looking for when appointing elders:
1 Peter 5:2–3 (NIV84) — 2 Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; 3 not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.
Serve willingly, not under compulsion
There is all the difference, especially in spiritual matters, between the man who does his work for no other reason than he has to do it, and the man who does it willingly, as being in God’s service.”
E. G. Selwyn
Serve eagerly, not out of greed
Although it may not be inappropriate to pay elders the point is that this position is never taken out of financial greed. Just to be transparent – our elders are not paid – all volunteer - this should say something about how they care for you
Serve as Examples, not slave drivers
1 Peter 5:3 (The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language) — 3 Not bossily telling others what to do, but tenderly showing them the way.
1 Peter 5:3 (NCV) — 3 Do not be like a ruler over people you are responsible for, but be good examples to them.
As you consider nominating men, “Who is an example to you?”
In all this Peter wants to remind his fellow elders that they have a responsibility to follow as well. And their leader is none other than Jesus, the Chief Shepherd.
1 Peter 5:4 (NIV84) — 4 And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.
1 Peter 5:2 (NIV84) — 2 Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care…
This is not their church, this is not their flock, they lead as they are being lead by Jesus
And Peter will add, we need to follow:
1 Peter 5:5 (ESV) — 5 Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders.
1 Peter 5:5 (NLT) — 5 In the same way, you who are younger must accept the authority of the elders.
Here is such an important lesson, especially to younger men and women. We need to submit ourselves to the elders. To recognize their leadership. To be blessed by their experience as they serve as guides.
We need guides. The elders have been there, done that. They are a valuable resource. They have experience. And they above all want us to make it home. And that’s another thing Peter reminds his fellow elders of.
1 Peter 5:4 (NIV) — 4 And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.
We need to be reminded of our goal as we can easily become obsessed with this world. We forget that we are headed somewhere. We forget that this world is not our home. Shepherds keep our eye on the crown that is to come
Peter has come full circle. He began his letter reminding them that the persecution is temporary. Reminding them that they are not living for this world but the next:
1 Peter 1:3–9 (NIV) — 3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
In the words of one of our shepherds, the goal is to get us home!
So, all of Peter’s previous admonitions carry special significance for him and his fellow elders because they are to be the first to show the way for those in their flock. First to submit. First to be selfless. First to serve. First to sacrifice. First to suffer. All the while pointing to the other side, to the only thing that will matter a hundred years from now. The crown.
G. Boyce Clay, The Most Important Thing
This is what the shepherds want for you, for all of us. For all of us to participate in that crowning ceremony to come. Oh, what a day that will be!