Sunday Reflection - 1 Peter 5:1-4
Almighty God we thank you for every sign of your blessing on our lives. We thank you for those that care for us, especially those in the health service at this time. Thank you for the food we eat, our homes, good rest and all the things we have in life which make our life easier. Father God we confess our sins. The things we have said we ought not to have said, the things we have done we ought not to have done. Forgive us and renew us in Jesus name. And Lord Jesus, we bring to you the things that we can’t handle: Our fears and concerns; The problems we need to resolve; and the needs of our world. We bring every concern to your feet because we know that you are the good and faithful one who hears, who sees, and who knows exactly what we need. We pray these things in Jesus name, Amen.
Read 1 Peter 5:1-4.
When we think about great leaders many will think of Winston Churchill with his confident, bombastic, motivational speeches during World War 2, or the Queen with her quiet ability to capture the mood of the nation in the few words that she speaks from time to time. Others will think of Martin Luther King and his determination to overcome racism and segregation in America or of Mother Teresa who, by her acts of kindness to the poor on the streets of Kolkata, moved many others to do likewise. But think for a moment of those you would name as great leaders: people who have inspired you personally because of what they have done. It could be a friend, a family member or someone you have worked with. Perhaps you can think of someone who is a leader in the Christian world, or in our own church that you respect and appreciate. When we think of leaders in our church we shouldn’t just think of one person being in charge. We have a leadership team that we call Elders in our church, but people lead in many different ways in church life. Some lead childrens’ groups, some lead with the music, with finance or in our support of the mission organisations. And some lead by example - somehow their character, and the way they l their lives inspires us. In verse 1, Peter addresses the ‘...elders among you’ appealing as ‘a fellow elder’. Here he simply means, the older people who would, in those days, naturally assume oversight of the Christian community. It is likely Peter would be about 50-60 years old, so maybe not as ‘old’ as we may think when he describes himself as an elder. Somewhere along the line, in the early church, the reference to elders meaning ‘...the older people’, became the title of an office holder - someone who ‘oversees’, as we see in 1
Timothy chapter 3. Hence we give the title ‘Elders’ to the team of people in our own church who lead our church irrespective of their age.
The key thing here is that whatever we call our church leaders they are called to be ‘...shepherds of God’s flock’ serving under the ‘Chief Shepherd’ (v4) that is Christ. This is really important for how we understand leadership in the church.
The title ‘pastor’ comes from this perspective of a leader being one who cares for the flock in the same way a shepherd cares for his sheep. Leaders in the church are first and foremost called to love and care for people in the same way Jesus loved and cared for people. Jesus used some pastoral analogies in his ministry. On one occasion he told the parable of the lost sheep and how the shepherd would leave the flock of 99 sheep in order to find that one lost sheep and bring it home. You can read about it in Luke chapter 15. In this parable Jesus is teaching that one of the most important things a church shepherd can do is bring people home to the Chief shepherd who is Jesus. It’s good to encourage personal relationships with one another but the most important relationship we need in life is with the Chief Shepherd, Jesus. In John 10.14 Jesus says ‘I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me.’ So to finish, I want to ask you, who are the leaders in your life? Pray for them that they may have a heart to lead and serve like Jesus. And who are you leading in life? Who do you influence by the way you live your life? Are you a good example, do you care for those who look up to you? Are you pointing them to Jesus?
Father God, Thank you for the leaders in our church. Thank you for those that oversee the church and those that lead young peoples’ groups and grow groups. Thank you for those that lead by example. We pray for them, to be filled with your Holy Spirit. We pray for them to know you as intimately as you know them. Father God, help me to influence others around me for good. To care for them, be an example to them, and to point them to Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.