“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…And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.”
(1 Peter 5:1-2,4 ESV)
As we’ve looked through Peter’s encouragement to elders, one thing is clear. Our ministry can easily become self-serving. We can serve to relieve guilt or to fulfill the expectations of others. We can serve for personal gain. And we can serve in order to control.
Throughout history, and even today, it’s clear how the office of ministry is used for self-serving purposes. And we must never believe that we’re immune to this sin. We must never believe ourselves to be so strong that we’d never fall into it.
The simple fact of the matter is that, even as pastors (elders) or lay leaders in the church, we are a sinful people. We are subject to temptation. We are vulnerable to the seduction of the world, the devil, and our own sinful nature.
This is what makes the above passage so timely. As we come to the end of this admonition, we’re reminded of a very simple truth: Jesus is the chief shepherd. Although we have been called to shepherd the flock of God that’s among us, we must bear in mind that it’s his flock. We must bear in mind that Jesus is the chief shepherd while we are under-shepherds.
As we carry out our ministry, we are to serve him. As we carry out our ministry, we’re to do so under his authority. We must continually remind ourselves that he is our Lord and that we are his servants.
When we serve with impure motives, we also fail to recognize the source of our blessing. We act as though we must provide for ourselves the blessings we need or desire. However, Peter reminds us that the Lord is the source of our blessing.
If we use the office of ministry for personal gain, the only thing this will bring about is worldly gain. It brings to us something temporal. However, if we serve faithfully, we’ll receive something greater.
At the return of Christ, Peter says, we’ll receive the unfading crown of glory. We’ll be honored by the Lord himself. We’ll receive the blessing of everlasting life and be clothed in the righteousness of Christ.