“To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder and a witness of Christ’s sufferings who also will share in the glory to be revealed: 2 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. 4 And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.” NIV
It has often been said that leaders face major temptations in three areas – money, sex and power. These are not the only ‘fences’ at which pastors have regularly fallen, but they have repeatedly proven problematic.
Two of them are dealt with by Peter. Notice:
‘’…not greedy for money’’ (2); and
‘’…not lording it over those entrusted to you…’’
If God has ‘’entrusted’’ a group of people to us, they are not ours but His. He is their Lord; we are not their lords. We have a role to play in encouraging them to live under the Lordship of Jesus, but we are not to try to dominate or control God’s people.
John Maxwell has said, ‘Leadership is influence.’ It is not primarily about status, position, fame and popularity. The influence may be with just a few, or it may be with many. That is ultimately God’s decision. But nothing can magnify or diminish a person’s influence like ‘example’. Who can estimate the real power of a godly example? Who can calculate the havoc wreaked by a bad one?
To sum up, elders are called to recognise that they are under-shepherds. Jesus is ‘’that great Shepherd of the sheep’’ (Hebrews 13:20). The church is His possession. He bought it with His own blood. He is ‘’the Chief Shepherd’’ (4), and our primary motive must be to please Him.