“But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. To Him be the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen” – 1 Peter 5:10-11
Being a pastor is a difficult calling under the best of circumstances. In our present times of change a pastor needs a good pair of track shoes to keep up and stay relevant. It’s a full-time job just being able to understand all that’s going on. It used to be acceptable to minister based on reality. Now people reject reality and demand to be ministered to based on their own personal fantasies. Science and biology take a back seat to what people “feel.” History is rewritten in our schools. Facts or empirical evidence are labeled with vile derogatory epithets. Everything and anything that is standing and that gives structure is to be torn down simply because it is seen as “old” and the cause of the pains of the day. The rational lens has been replaced with the smudged glasses of gender, race, and anarchy. Pastoring in these times requires a pure heart, alert mind, thick skin, and the courage of a prophet.
While this teaching is aimed at Pastors, it is not for Pastors only. Congregations need to understand what a pastor is and what they are called to do to be supportive of their pastors. Church leaders called to support their pastors need to have a bit of pastor in them to assist in overseeing the flock of God. Parents need to have a bit of pastor in them in this day when the State is more and more trying the dictate what your child becomes in their web of control. What we will learn about pastoring in this study is useful in so many ways. We need a spirit of pastoring to minister to each other and the lost and hurting of our day.
Many have a false understanding of what a Pastor is to be. An unknown author wrote the following tongue-in-cheek description of what a Pastor is expected to be in our day:
“The Perfect Pastor”
• The perfect pastor preaches exactly 10 minutes.
• He condemns sin roundly but never hurts anyone’s feelings.
• He works from 8am until midnight and is also the church janitor.
• The perfect pastor makes $40 a week, wears good clothes, drives a good car, buys good books, and donates $30 a week to the church.
• He is 29 years old and has 40 years’ experience
• Above all, he is handsome
• The perfect pastor has a burning desire to work with teenagers, and he spends most of his time with the senior citizens
• He smiles all the time with a straight face because he has a sense of humor that keeps him seriously dedicated to his church
• He makes 15 home visits a day and is always in his office to be handy when needed
• The perfect pastor always has time for church council and all of its committees
• He never misses the meeting of any church organization and is always busy evangelizing the unchurched.
• The perfect pastor is always in the church down the street!
The “perfect” pastor according to the spiritually shallow of our day is more a Push-me-Pull-you of Dr. Doolittle called to answer-my-beck-and-call-meet-my-every-need-right-now servant of the self-centered “saint.” But a pastor is so much more than that. He is called to serve the Lord and that often puts him in the crosshairs of carnal saints. It’s not easy being a pastor. No it is not.
The avalanche of change in our day is enough to make your head spin. Societies’ shaky ground is bringing everything into question. In such times of turbulence the pastor is called to introduce and proclaim living hope. That hope is found in Jesus Christ.
Peter’s first epistle is aimed at ministering to people who are suffering for their faith. Peter opens this letter with a blessing that introduces us to the concept of living hope:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
Living hope is something rooted in the very nature of the Triune God. It is supplied by God’s abundant mercy. It is received as part of our second birth, our spiritual birth, our being born again according to the teaching of Jesus (cf. John 3). Therefore, living hope is a product or fruit of the Holy Spirit’s work in us. The means of such living hope is the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Living hope is hope for eternity.
Living hope is a fire in the heart of the one who has been born again and now knows Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord (John 17:3). Living hope is characterized by the burning heart birthed by a saving encounter with Jesus. It is a hope birthed through the Spirit’s revelation in the word of God. Living hope is best expressed in the words of Cleopas, “Did not our heart burn within us while He [Jesus] talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:32). That is living hope. Do you have it?
Pastor, you need a burning heart if you are to minister Christ’s living hope to this lost world. John Wesley used to tell his ministers, “Light yourself on fire with passion and people will come from miles to watch you burn.” Make sure that “passion” is for Jesus and His word. A wet blanket can’t pass on the burning heart of living hope. Go to your prayer closets and pray for Christ’s passion. If you don’t have a prayer closet, build one, find one, by all means get into one, and pray God’s fire down!
Our relevance is not based on merely stepping in line with those marching to the drumbeats of change. Our relevance is based on staying steady and true to the living gospel hope of our Lord Jesus Christ. Remember what Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away” (Matthew 24:35). Remember that.
Turn with me to the final chapter of Peter’s first epistle where he is inspired to focus on pastoral leadership. Peter wasn’t a perfect pastor. That’s good because we are not perfect either. We can relate to Peter. In this final chapter Peter gives us wise words on what a pastor is and how we can minister living hope to the lost of this world.
Our study can be outlined as follows:
- The Call and Character of Those Who Lead Others Into Living Hope – 5:1-4.
- The Casting of Those Who Lead Others into Living Hope – 5:5-7.
- The Combat and Consideration of Those Who Lead Others Into Living Hope – 5:8-14.
The Call and Character of Those Who Lead others into Living Hope
1 Peter 5:1-4 – “The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed:2 Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly;3 nor as being lords 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 does not fade away.”
Peter addresses the “elders” or leaders who are among the saints reading his letter. The word “elders” here is PRESBYTEROS (Strong’s #4245) and literally means, “senior, old man” and refers to those who are mature in their faith and who have been placed in a position of leadership among the people of God. Peter tells these spiritual leaders to “shepherd the flock of God.” This is the call of a leader in the church. The word “shepherd” is a translation of the Greek term POIMAINO (Strong’s # 4165) and is also used to refer to pastors (Ephesians 4:11). The word “pastor’ and “shepherd” come from the same Greek term POIMAINO. A shepherd does not only feed the flock but cares for it and protects it. This is the rudimentary nature of all leaders in the church, not only the pastor, (though especially the Senior Pastor). From these verses we should note a few characteristics that should exist in church leaders.
Characteristics of Pastoral Leaders
The following characteristics should exist in church leaders:
First, “serving.” (5:2b)
To shepherd God’s flock first and foremost means to serve them. Jesus taught His disciples to have a servant’s heart. Jesus said, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45). He said, “But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant.” (Matthew 23:11). The servant’s heart is taught throughout the Scriptures (e.g. Luke 17:5-10; John 13:15-17; 1 Cor. 9:19, 22-23; 2 Cor. 4:5; 5:14-15; Philippians 2:5-11).
Second, “oversees.” (5:2c)
The leader “oversees” the flock of God. This word is translated from the Greek EPISKOPEO (Strong’s # 1983). This term means to “diligently watch over, to beware.” In other words, church leaders are not to wait for problems to come to them but oversee or watch out for potential problems to nip them in the bud before they happen. A church leader actively looks out for needs in the flock of God and then takes action to bring the resources of the church to meet that need.
Third, “willingly.” (5:2d)
Peter says a leader should not have to be forced to lead. One of the basic characteristics of a leader is that they have to desire to lead (See 1 Timothy 3:1 “desires”). If a person doesn’t want to lead in the church, then they should not be in a position of leadership. Leaders should not be coerced into leadership but offered opportunities to lead and then if they choose to answer God’s call to lead they should get involved.
Fourth, “eagerly.” (5:2e)
Peter says, “not for dishonest gain.” In other words, the leader in the church should not be looking to profit by fleecing the flock. The leader should not decide to lead because he is thinking, “Wow! Imagine all the contacts I can make for my business.” Or “Wow! Imagine how many insurance policies I can sell to these people.” The church leader should “eagerly,” or simply because they have a servant’s heart and want to be used by God to bring glory to Him (Colossians 3:17-23).
Fifth, “being examples to the flock.” (5:3)
The church leader is not one who tells others what to do ordering them around. The church leader is one who leads by example, whether that means cleaning church grounds, windows, carpets and yes, even toilets or any other thing. The church leader should not ask anyone to do anything that they themselves are not willing to do.
There is a time when the pastor is to put priorities in place so that he can devote himself to prayer and the teaching of God’s word (Acts 6). But this does not excuse the pastor from continuing with a servant’s heart. There should be no ivory tower leaders in the church. The church leader is a servant! Set the example!
Sixth, ready to receive the crown of glory. (5:4)
The reward of the church leader is the crown of glory to be received from the Chief Shepherd and Overseer of our souls. This is the hope of leaders. This is what motivates them. And this is what is to be modeled to the flock of God. All the previous characteristics of leaders should be modeled in a way that communicates that the leader works and serves in this life because of the hope he has in the next life. The hope of being with Christ in the future drives the leader today. We serve for Jesus first and foremost (Colossians 3).
The Casting of Those Who Lead Others into Living Hope
1 Peter 5:5-7 – “Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for 1 “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.”6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time,7 casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.”
Peter says that the flock should submit to the leaders God has called to lead them (5:5a). Notice that Peter says, “all of you be submissive to one another,” which means there should not be anyone exalting themselves as better than others (5:5b). There is no Biblical basis for a separation between clergy and laity in the church. A pastor is simply a member of the flock called and spiritually gifted to serve that flock and do so in a full-time capacity if the need demands. The flock then financially supports the pastor, but the pastor is not separate from the other members, but one of them still. The pastor or clergy is not a super spiritual class of people that is above everyone else. The pastor or leader may be in a more visible position, but that is only because they are the first in serving others. The church is to be a place where everyone lives in mutual submission to one another. This means everyone can learn from everyone else and everyone should be open to hearing what anyone else has to say. There should be no partiality in the church! (Romans 2:11; James 2:1-13). Those leaders who are characterized by the qualities listed above should have little difficulty with those they are serving. It is the “proud” that are resisted by God as well as the flock of God (5:5c).
Everyone in the church should humble themselves before God (5:6), as well as cast their cares upon the Lord (5:7). The word “casting” is EPIRRHIPTO (Strong’s #1977) in the original language and means to, “throw upon.” The idea here is that the leader as well as those being led should throw upon God that which is a source of anxiety and troubling one’s heart. Leaders continue to lead and don’t burn out by learning to cast their burdens upon God. Remember what Jesus said?
- Matthew 11:29-30 – “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.30 “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
Jesus is the hope of the leader. When we cast our cares on Jesus, we begin to trust in His Spirit to do the work of ministry and we stop trusting in our flesh to get things done. Burnout in the church comes when people do things in their own strength rather than God’s. Cast your burden on the Lord! If He wants something to happen, it will happen, don’t sweat it, it’s His church, let Him handle it.
The Combat and Consideration of Those Who Lead Others Into Living Hope
1 Peter 5:8-14 – “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.9 Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.10 But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.11 To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.12 By Silvanus, our faithful brother as I consider him, I have written to you briefly, exhorting and testifying that this is the true grace of God in which you stand.13 She who is in Babylon, elect together with you, greets you; and so does Mark my son.14 Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace to you all who are in Christ Jesus. Amen.”
We are in a spiritual war; do you realize that? Satan is prowling around looking to intimidate with his roar those who seek to be used by God. Satan is looking for people he can feed on and nourish his evil plans (5:8). Peter implies that some of the suffering experienced by the brethren is due to satanic devices and the believer should resist these attacks “steadfast in the faith” (5:9). “Steadfast” here means, “stable, sure, strong, sturdy” (Strong’s # 4731 STEREOS).
What gets the leader through? What is the hope of the leader in spiritual warfare? The God of all grace. It is He who will use any trial or suffering we experience to “perfect” or thoroughly complete us (Strong’s # 2675) KATARTIDZO); to “establish,” or firmly establish, set us in place (Strong’s # 4741 STERIDZO); to “strengthen,” or spiritual ground us (Strong’s # 4599 STHENOO); and “settle,” or consolidate and put everything in place, it’s right place (Strong’s #2311 THEMLIOO) (5:10). God will work in and through us to bring His will to pass. That is our greatest hope. Paul similarly spoke of spiritual warfare and the need to put on the spiritual armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18).
Pastors, we have a high calling that humbles us to the lowest of lows. The only way we can effectively pastor is in the power of the Holy Spirit. Being a pastor today isn’t easy, but it is possible. We have a challenging but blessed heritage. Our predecessors left us a high bar to measure up to. Consider the account found in Foxes’ Book of Martyrs of how the Apostle Peter gave his life for the glory of God:
Peter – Among many other saints, the blessed apostle Peter was condemned to death, and crucified, as some do write, at Rome; albeit some others, and not without cause, do doubt thereof. Hegesippus saith that Nero sought matter against Peter to put him to death which, when the people perceived, they entreated Peter with much ado that he would fly the city. Peter, through their importunity at length persuaded, prepared himself to avoid. But, coming to the gate, he saw the Lord Christ come to meet him, to whom he, worshipping, said, “Lord, whither dost Thou go?” To whom He answered and said, “I am come again to be crucified.” By this, Peter, perceiving his suffering to be understood, returned into the city. Jerome saith that he was crucified his head being down and his feet upward, himself so requiring, because he was (he said) unworthy to be crucified after the same form and manner as the Lord was.
Can you relate to that testimony? There have been martyrs throughout history who have given their lives in similar ways. In our present times of pending persecution, maybe we need to remember that part of our calling is to be the “filth of the world, the offscouring of all things until now” (1 Corinthians 4:13). The world wants to put people up on a pedestal. The call to being a pastor turns that upside down.
The power of the early church is rarely seen in the church today (See Acts). We need pastors like Peter in the church today! Pastor be encouraged, Christ is with you!
The devil is on the prowl, “Resist him steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.” YOU ARE NOT ALONE! The Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are with you. Your fellow pastors are with you. Those with a pastor’s heart are with you. WE ARE NOT ALONE!
Remember your calling:
“But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. To Him be the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen”
Let’s make that our prayer for one another. We can only pastor by God’s grace. Our calling will likely lead to suffering. But God’s promise is to “perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle” us. Remember, we answered the call to bring Him glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. And let’s remember, there is great living hope in those words. Pastor, seek the Lord for a burning passion to pass that powerful living hope on to all around you. That is the purpose of a pastor.
 Marie Gentert King, Ed., Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, (Old Tappen, N.J.: Fleming H. Revell Co., 1978