Read 1 Peter 5:1-4. What attitudes should leaders bring to their roles in the church? How can these principles apply to any of us, regardless of our role?
Peter begins his instructions to elders by observing that he himself is a fellow elder. He then notes two things about himself:
he is a witness of the suffering of Christ, and he is expecting to share in the glory to be revealed. In saying this, Peter highlights the first characteristic that should be found within an elder: an elder should understand the importance of what Christ has suffered in our behalf and what great hope He offers us.
Peter likens the role of an elder to a shepherd tending the flock of God. His comparing a church to sheep suggests that, like sheep, members can sometimes go off on their own. Thus, they need the shepherd to guide them back to the group and to help them work in harmony with it. The elder also should function as a humble example of how a Christian needs to act.
An important role of Christian leadership is to work with the people in the church as patiently as shepherds must work with their sheep. Elders must gently bring them together for worship and for sharing the message of Jesus with those who need to know Him and the salvation found in Him.
Peter also observes that elders should exercise oversight willingly and not under compulsion. It is not always easy to find people willing to take on the challenges of leading out in the church. This is particularly evident around nominating committee time. For a church to function well, there are a number of distinct roles that need to be filled. There are reasons that many people are reluctant to take on leadership roles. Some of these roles require a considerable investment of time, and people suitable for such roles already might have many commitments. Others may feel that they are not prepared well enough to take on the role. But Peter’s word is that if asked, we should willingly take on leadership if it is at all possible.