Updated: Dec 2, 2020
On Sunday, we looked at Peter's encouragement and directives to Christian leaders. Here's what he wrote:
To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder and a witness of Christ’s sufferings who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away. (1 Peter 5:1-4 NIV)
From the text above, we noticed three things about Christian leadership:
The call to shepherd (vv. 1-2a).
The way to shepherd (vv. 2b-3).
The reward for faithful shepherding (v. 4).
Although primarily a text that speaks to church leaders and overseers, what Peter wrote could be applied to the lives of all Christian leaders, whether a Christian supervisor in a secular workplace, a Christian parent raising children, or even a Christian middle schooler working on a team project. From a biblical perspective, any leadership we are ever involved in should reflect the heart of a caring servant, because that's how Jesus led—as a servant. Mark 10:45 highlights this for us: "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."
As we look to Jesus, we are all encouraged to serve with loving care. Of course, this is especially true for leaders and workers in any local church. Pastors, board members, Bible study leaders, small group leaders, worship teams, youth workers, children's ministry workers, ushers, communion distributors, etc. If you serve in any kind of ministry, the goal is to serve in the likeness of Christ.
If you are blessed to have these kinds of leaders in your life, be thankful for them and appreciate them. I must say: not every church is blessed with great servant-leaders who care deeply about God's flock. I've experienced dysfunctional church leadership teams in the past. But I've also experienced the joy of serving alongside faithfully loving leaders and overseers. And I have to tell you: here at New Life, we are richly blessed with servant-leaders who shepherd well and truly care about us.
From the top down, we have servant-workers in our church who exemplify what Christlike, servant-leadership looks like. So I want to encourage you: show them your appreciation. It could be through something as simple as a handwritten note, a text message, or even an email. However you do it, let them know how thankful you are for them. A lot of what they do for God's flock goes unseen. They invest their time and energy in us; they pray for us; they give us wise counsel; they point us to Jesus when we need it; they even come to our homes to help us install a toilet! (Just speaking from personal experience on that last example)
Of course, they don't do any of this for our praise. They know their reward is in heaven, but a faithful worker is "worthy of... honor" (1 Timothy 5:17).
This Christmas season, as you express joy and gratitude to God for the incarnation of our Chief Servant-Shepherd, Jesus, don't forget to express your gratitude for the blessing of the many servant-shepherds in our church. From our Executive Board to our staff to our many volunteers in many areas of ministry, let's let them know how much we love and appreciate them. And—as you remember—pray for them, that God would continue to guide them, protect them, and sustain them in their service to us.
One final note: Please know it is a joy and privilege to serve you as your pastor. Thank you for welcoming my family and me to this special church. We are grateful to the Lord for each of you, and we pray that this Christmas season will fill your hearts with the joy of the Lord.
With love for you in Christ,