World English Bible translation
5:1I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and who will also share in the glory that will be revealed. 5:2 Tend the flock of God which is among you, exercising the oversight, not under compulsion, but voluntarily, not for dishonest gain, but willingly; 5:3 neither as lording it over the charge allotted to you, but making yourselves examples to the flock. 5:4 When the chief Shepherd will be revealed, you will receive the crown of glory that doesn't fade away. 5:5 Likewise, you younger ones, be subject to the elder.
Since Peter has reiterated the theme of this epistle once again he now prepares to end it. But, there are a few more points that he wants to remind these Christians of before he concludes. He has spoken to them about sharing the sufferings of Jesus Christ. He has written about the necessity of sticking together and of loving one another. He has told them of the importance of holy living and the need to put away the sin in their lives. Now he turns his attention to the elders among them.
Appointed elders ran the congregations of the early church. In the examples we are given in scripture the apostles normally confirmed them. Peter writes to these men and he tells them that he understands their difficulties. He is a fellow elder himself. He is also a witness to the sufferings of Christ and he tells them that he will also share in the glory of Christ when it is revealed.
He tells these elders that they have a duty to tend God's flock that is under their care. The flock is not their flock; it is God's. They have been given a trust to guard the flock and protect it. Like their Lord, the Good Shepherd, they must even be willing to lay down their lives for God's flock.
The main point that Peter wants these men to know is that they are to exercise control over God's flock with caution. They are to serve willingly, not under compulsion and not for dishonest gain. They are not to use their positions to Lord it over the believers, but they are to lead by example. The glory and the honor for fulfilling their duties will come when Christ is revealed. Then they shall receive a crown of glory that will never fade away.
Good leadership is essential to any group of believers. You would think that with the Spirit of God living in us leading us to all truth that we would not need human leaders at all. But, God chooses to work through the weak things of the world, which means, He chooses to work through human beings. In every group of believers that I have ever been involved in, there are always men and women that everyone seems to acknowledge as leaders in one way or another. Sometimes they have official positions within a church. Many times they do not. You can usually tell them when something goes wrong. These men and women of Christ are always the ones people turn to and the ones to first step in the gap and try to fix whatever is wrong.
When a body of believers has men and women of the qualities that Peter is describing it can survive persecution. The church can hold together because there are godly men and women who form the backbone of the place. On the other hand, even large groups of people split up over trivialities when there is not good leadership. (That's not meant to imply that every group that splits up has bad leaders. Sometimes God just wants a group to split up, for His own reasons.)
The other side of the coin is that those who are not leaders must be willing to follow. People, even Christians, can be a contentious lot. We must sometimes be willing to sublimate our own needs to the needs of the body. You cannot be a good leader unless you have also learned the art of being a good follower.
Have you known good leaders in the Christian groups that you have belonged to? What qualities did they have that reminded you of Christ? What did they inspire you to be like?
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