“Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock;” (1 Peter 52-3 NKJV)
It’s interesting that when Peter gave this admonition, he described himself as a “fellow elder.” (vs 1) it would have been easy for him to carve out a position of pre-eminence as one who had walked with Jesus, but he began this teaching by putting himself among all of the shepherds (pastors) on a level playing field. His call to his fellow elders or pastors was to do the work of shepherding God’s people, guiding them in the right path, willingly, eagerly, and as examples to the flock. Let’s face it, we all have bad days, even pastors. I don’t think Peter would kick anyone out of the ministry if they woke up occasionally and complained about needing to go to work. If that’s a common, almost every day experience, though, should you really be following that call? Peter would call those pastors who seem to be in it for the money, who consider fleecing the flock an important part of their ministry on the carpet for their love of dishonest gain. And do I even need to say anything about those pastors who consider themselves to be above their congregations and expect them to follow their dictates without question?
Let’s face it, there are people serving in the position of pastor or shepherd whom we all know who could stand to read these verses. Two of those admonitions can be seen in behavior: those who use their positions for dishonest gain and those who lord their position over others instead of being examples. We don’t always know how our pastors feel about going to work, but if my pastor doesn’t go willingly and cheerfully, I’m guessing I’m the problem. Ultimately, we should seek pastors who love their work and do what they do because they love the Lord. Too often all we see on the news are the pastors who seem to violate these tenets. There are far more pastors who honor the Lord by their service and make sacrifices in order to be able to share their joy as shepherds of the flock of God. I thank God for all those pastors, whether they be full time or, especially, bi-vocational. May God continue to use His pastors to work through His people and bring the amazing gospel of grace to a lost and dying world.
Lord, thank You for those shepherds who exemplify Your love and grace day in and day out. Continue to encourage them, give them Your grace, and provide for all their needs.