In the first two verses of chapter five, Peter gave a couple of contrasts to leaders and elders of the church. In this week’s passage, he completes that though and gives a rationale. Take a look at this passage in 1 Peter 5:3-4.
The first two contrasts were found in last week’s passage, and they dealt with one’s willingness to serve and not feeling pressure, and being eager to serve instead of doing it for the money. In verse three, Peter gives the third contrast.
While there are several other passage sin the New Testament that speak to leadership, and especially those who are elders or overseers in the church, Peter’s instructions here are worth paying close attention to. He doesn’t give a lot of information that isn’t found elsewhere, but they do seem to be very encouraging insights to his readers. Remember that Peter is writing to a primarily Gentile audience, and many of his readers may have been new to church leadership. Peter’s words here seem especially encouraging.
It’s also worth noting again that Peter calls leaders to nothing that isn’t applicable, and in fact instructed, to all Christians, whether in positions of leadership or not. Leaders just display such traits perhaps more publicly.
The third contrast that Peter gives is in verse 3. He instructs leaders in the area of authority: “Not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.”
This is a pretty similar statement to that of Jesus in Mark 10:42-44:
Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.”
Local government, and even Roman Imperialism, tended to be very elitist in many instances, and the higher one was in this arena, the more likely they were to flaunt it. Peter condemns this behavior, and encourages the leaders of the church to lead by example. When people see leadership serving, or working, or loving others, they can see the heart of Christianity.
And finally, Peter gives a brief rationale explaining why leadership should stand out in such ways. The Chief Shepherd is coming. By calling Jesus by this title, Peter places a clear hierarchy for elders and overseers to follow. They are not in charge; by no means. They are the undershepherds, and are only following the instructions and example of the ultimate authority, that of Jesus himself. And when Jesus returns, those faithful undershepherds will receive their reward, that crown of glory.
In early Roman culture, a wreath of ivy or other vegetation was given to show honor or achievement to those such as athletes, military leaders, civic leaders, and almost every other area of service. It was a symbol of honor. Peter swipes that imagery here as an example that his readers would easily understand. We too will receive something similar for remaining faithful; we too will receive a crown. But ours won’t fade like greenery or vegetation will. Ours will last forever.
And that makes the effort worthwhile.
Question: How do you keep the goal in sight? What do you do to stay focused upon that crown of glory so that you stay faithful through thick and thin? You can leave a comment by clicking here.