Lesson 4: An Urgent Call to Shepherd – Part 4
Course: Urgent Call to Shepherd – Lectures 1-5
Lecture 4: An Urgent Call to Shepherd – Part 4
Peter continues his charge to the Elders of the church to shepherd God’s flock in God’s way. 1 Peter 5:2-3
A. Shepherd with the Right Motives
We are looking at worthy and unworthy motives in shepherding the flock of God. Peter said not to do it because you are forced. And according to God’s standard, you are to do it willingly and freely from your heart because you want to do this. The second unworthy motive was for shameful gain; just because you can get something for yourself or get access to other people’s money or even people’s lives. You need to have a passion to do this. The third unworthy motive and the most subtle of the three is that of a domineering over those in your charge, but instead to be examples to the flock. This is far more wide spread than you realize. There is a desire to control people, to be in a position of leadership, to be the one to get status and authority over people. Sometimes this can be very sick. We read about this in 3rd John, a man named Diotrephes who liked to be in the first place and he excommunicates people that disagreed with him. He controls and dominates people out of fear and guilt. We are not to be like Diotrephes; we are to be like the Lord, Jesus Christ. Now, in the Greek and Roman way of thinking, that was the way of leadership; it was dominating, it was lording it over other people; it was status and authority and power and prestige. All these things were very much prized by the Greco-Roman culture, but can I remind you that the Lord Jesus Christ in the Gospels reversed all of this. He turned the pyramid on its head. In Luke 22:22, Jesus said that he was among us as one who serves. If you are truly great, if you are a good leader, you will be the one who serves other people. You will be a slave to others. What does he mean by this? This could be misunderstood as in not seeking leadership or you don’t have any authority. No, it doesn’t mean that for he is talking about a style of leadership.
B. Do Leadership that is Other People Oriented
He says the kind of leadership that should characterize any leaders is a leadership that is other people oriented, not self-oriented. It is a humble form of leadership. It is a kind of leadership where you are concerned about building up and promoting others and advancing others, not just looking at yourself. It is Philippians 2 leadership. Have the mind of Christ in you which is humility and servanthood. So, it is other oriented leadership, not self-oriented. In fact, Jesus taught that you will actually give up your life for others to serve them. Your leadership is a servant leadership. So, when you are leading people and teaching people and guiding and counseling people, you are serving them as a servant leader. So, leadership is not this heavy handed kind of rule. Let me tell you that if a leader creates fear and guilt in people, people will never flourish and grow the way they should. Sam Storms gives a series of statements because this could be so subtle. The different ways we can domineer over people, those who have been allotted to our charge. A pastor dominates when he uses the sheer force of his personality to over whelm others and to coerce others into submission and to use people like puppets and force your will upon others and to force your conscience upon their conscience. A pastor dominates whenever he presents himself as a super spiritual person; a person who gets messages from God. A pastor domineers whenever he gains a following and support against all of the centers by guaranteeing those who stand with him will be rewarded and those who do not will be removed from leadership. He domineers by building into people a greater loyalty to himself than to God.
C. The Message is About Jesus, not Ourselves
Listen to what Paul says to the Corinthians who got all mixed up about this kind of servant leadership. In 2nd Corinthians 4:5, Paul says, for what we proclaimed is not ourselves but Jesus Christ. Their message is all about another person, Jesus Christ. That is the kind of Christian servant leadership. We point people to Christ, not to ourselves. It is ourselves for Jesus’ sake, another name for slave. Our ministry is to point people to Christ which is your slave for Jesus’ sake. We proclaim Jesus as Lord; he is Lord; we are not. Let us not build into people a devotion to us, but point them to Christ in total devotion to Christ. And let us challenge them and say that if we are wrong, then they need to challenge us. We don’t know everything. We need people’s wisdom and help. Sam Storms goes on to say, such a person dominates by short-circuiting due process by shutting down dialogue and discussion prematurely by not giving all concern an opportunity to voice their opinion or their descent. He domineers by establishing barriers between himself and the sheep by putting the staff out in front or removing himself from people. You can’t get to him. He domineers over people by creating a governmental structure in which the senior pastors are accountable to no one or accountable only to his family or close friends or to puppets he puts in place. There are so many subtle ways where we try to control people and create an atmosphere of you having to come to me for everything and we create guilt. People will not prosper and grow in that atmosphere. No, servant leadership is promoting others and helping others to be transparent and be willing to listen and be willing to be criticized and that hurts; it does hurt. People can be very malicious with their criticism, but we are to be open to that because we are servant leaders.
Now, we are not to domineer over those in our charge and by that he means those assigned to us. They have been given to us by the Lord; that is why we can’t dominate over them, they are not ours. They belong to the Lord. They have been given to us and we are to lead them in a Christ like servant way following the example of Jesus. He closes this section with the conclusion saying as examples to the flock, do not miss this. We are not to have a heavy handed approach on leadership. We don’t have this in the family of God or in the church. The church is not a company or military; it is the people of God. It is the assembly of God, the household of God, a pillar and buttress of truth. It is a different style of leadership. You lead by example to the flock and this is powerful. In the end, what influences people is not a badge that says I’m the bishop, I’m the priest, I’m the elder or pastor. That only carries you so far. It is a human example that is so powerful to influence the mind and the heart of the next generation. So, we are to be examples to the flock. Have you ever noticed that in the Bible, much of it is biography? For example, the life of Abraham, the life of Joseph and the life of Jacob and then there is the life of David; of which there are sixty six chapters. Then there is the life of Daniel and the life of Jerimiah. Much of the New Testament is about the life of Christ, and then there is the life of Paul. God teaches us through role modeling. That is how we learn most things; we watch our parents and we copy. We copy people more than we realize.
D. Be a Model of Jesus Christ
Well, most people don’t really care to read and so they learn by watching, others, by modeling. That is why the apostle Paul can say in 1 Corinthians 11:1 to follow him because he follows Christ. As a leader, you should be able to point to people and say, follow and watch me and look at my example. That is the most powerful thing of all; it is your life style and testimony and your character. Not even all your skills though it is good to have good people skills, management and teaching skills. These are good things but ultimately it is you character, your person that influences people for eternity. This is all true to life, be examples to the flock. They will really follow you; you are the one who will have an influence for a life time on people. When they see you as an elder, they will say that person loves to worship. That man loves to sing the praises of the Lord when the music goes. He loves to get up and pray and to worship the Lord through praise and he is generous with his money in giving and having a deep heart for the suffering people. He sacrifices himself in being always there, looking out for people. After a while, people get the message and say that is what a Christian is. I want to remind you that an elder isn’t a super Christian, they are a mature Christians. You should have all of these qualities, also. You look at an elder and his qualifications as an example; you should strive for that. You may never be an elder, but you strive to be that kind of believer. So, may I say to you today that one of the most powerful tools you have is yourself as example of Christ. You should never forget this. People are watching you and your children are watching you; your grandchildren are watching you. Your parents are also watching you; the flock is watching you. You are being watched. You may not notice but it is happening and you are an example and people will follow you.
E. A Leader Influences Christ Likeness
Oswell Sanders says that leadership is influence. Whoever you are influencing, you are the one leading. If you are not influencing people, you are not leading. You can have all the titles you want but if no one is following you, you are not a leader. Leadership is influence; as you influence people, they become like you. We become like Christ; Paul says to follow him as he follows Christ. If you look through the letter of 1 Peter, you will notice that Peter has given us some very important teaching, telling us to be humble and to submit one to another and to the government. He has told us, having a real emphasis on love, because whenever persecution and pressure comes on the church, we usually turn on one another. It is very hard to live in a loving and submissive community. How is the church going to be humble and submissive and loving if the leaders are domineering and controlling; they have to have it their way through fear and guilt and manipulating them? What kind of congregation are you going to have? If we are going to be the kind of congregation that Peter has been speaking about throughout the letter, then we elders, we shepherds have to have that example. We have to show respect to government; we have to show in our marriages what kind of husbands we are. In fact, Peter says that God will not listen to your prayers if you don’t treat your wife properly. We are models and people are watching. If we are going to have the kind of church that Peter is calling for, we have to model it. So my dear friends, you are to be examples to the flock for people are watching and they are following. You are to be a good example, not a bad example; be a Christ like example. That is what we have been called to and that is the best way to shepherd the Lord’s people. It is God’s way; do it his way.