Monday, April 30, 2018

Why We Serve, Part 3

“So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight… not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.”
(1 Peter 5:1-33 ESV)

There are many different leadership styles that are used in churches around the world today. Some churches are lead exclusively by the pastor. Others are led by a group of elders. And still others are congregational led.

When churches are ruled by the pastor, or by a small group of individuals, it creates the possibility of leaders becoming overbearing. They are enabled to dominate those in their care. They are empowered to lead by coercion. And, being sinful human beings, there’s a tendency to take advantage of these possibilities.

However, the leadership style advocated by Peter is very different. He calls on elders to shepherd the flock of God that is among them, not domineering those under their charge. In other words, their leadership is not to be characterized by control of the church.

This fits in with the leadership style encouraged by Jesus. He said that the one who is great in the kingdom of God will be a servant of all (Matthew 20:26). And he calls on us to sacrificially give of ourselves to bless others.  He calls on us to perform even the most menial and degrading of tasks to serve one another (John 13:12-17, 34).

Instead of domineering the flock, Peter calls on elders to be examples to those under their care. As we feed and care for the flock of God, under our oversight, we’re to model a life of faith. We are to live out our faith in front of them. This doesn’t mean that we’re expected to be perfect. However, we’re to live a life of trust in Christ before them. We’re to model a life of confession, repentance, and confident expectation before them. We’re to model a continual reliance upon the Word of God.

This isn’t to downplay the role of the pastor or of elders in the church, nor does it downplay the respect they’re to be given. Paul says that they’re to be respected (1 Thessalonians 5:12). He says that those who rule well are worthy of double honor (1 Timothy 5:17).

However, we are called to be servant leaders, and not dictators. We're called to be examples, and not task-masters. Our leadership is not to be characterized by dominance and control of the church.

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