December 7

1 Peter 5:2-4 2Be 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; 3not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. 4And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.

Peter is addressing the elders that would read his letter to the local church. You will find that the New Testament always addresses elders in a city in the plural. The elders were the overseers of each church. This team of men were to serve willingly, not out of obligation. Shepherding a congregation has many difficulties. It isn't a job that was readily desired, for it means going above and beyond in service. It means a life that exemplifies the life of Christ.

The elders are not chosen for their status in life. Some might come from a low-income level and find the support of the believers to be more than they made in their business. Usually the opposite is true, but in their case, they should not serve because of the possibility of increased finances. From rich or poor backgrounds, elders should serve because God wants them to. An elder's chief desire should be to please the Lord.

The elders are not to throw their weight around in an authoritarian way. They should be an example to the flock in every way. Even when discipline is necessary, they should do it with love and gentleness. For this life of service and sacrifice, there is a promise to look forward to. The Chief Shepherd will give the faithful ones a crown of glory that will never fade.

Consider: Are you praying for your shepherds? It is easy to criticize their service, but would you want their job? They must answer to the Chief Shepherd. Help them be willing servants by your encouragement and prayers. What does a good sheep do? (For more on role of elders see Biblical Eldership by A. Strauch.)