The Right Perspective on Church Leaders
1 Peter 5:1–5a – Perspective: 1 Peter Series – July 10, 2022
Reading of 1 Peter 1:1–5.
(July 16, 2005, The Mirror newspaper from Ghana) “ISTANBUL: Hundreds of sheep followed their leader off a cliff in eastern Turkey, plunging to their deaths this week while shepherds looked on in dismay. Four hundred sheep fell 15 metres to their deaths in a ravine in Van province near Iran but broke the fall of another 1,100 animals who survived, newspaper reports said yesterday. Shepherds from Ikizler village neglected the flock while eating breakfast, leaving the sheep to roam free, the Radikal daily said. The loss to local farmers was estimated at $74,000 – Reuters.” The BBC added this to its July 8, 2005, report of same event: “Every family had an average of 20 sheep,” one villager told the Aksam daily newspaper. “But now only a few families have sheep left. It's going to be hard for us.”
It's not that sheep are stupid, but that instinct to follow each other is instinctual, “hard-wired” from birth, according to one shepherdess.
What the story illustrates: Sheep without a shepherd aren’t free and independent; they’re about to die in a half-dozen different ways. That’s why Jesus has compassion on the crowd in Matthew 9 and says, “They’re like sheep without a shepherd.”
But the story also tells us: Sheep with a delinquent shepherd are worse off than sheep without a shepherd. Because to the sheep and to everyone else, they APPEAR to have a shepherd. In truth, they don’t. They’re going to die in those same half-dozen ways.
Important for us to see:
Series: Perspective. This morning, perspective on leadership in God’s church. 1 Peter 5:1–5a gives us a healthy view of leadership in the church.
Our culture is part of this pendulum swing: one extreme is leader worship. Leaders can do no wrong. We hang on their every word. Create cults of personality.
Other extreme is to despise leadership. Leaders can do no right. Reject every word. Make our living writing attack pieces, scouring the world for failed leaders.
Peter doesn’t want us to idolize or despise leaders. Healthy view of leadership.
This is for all of us to hear—church members and church leaders need to have a clear understanding of the role of the pastor.
Sermon: A Healthy View of (1) Shepherds, (2) the Chief Shepherd, and (3) Responding to Shepherds.
Passage starts by addressing the Shepherds themselves. Read 1 Peter 5:1–3.
“So I…” – In light of 4:12–19 and “judgment to begin at the household of God” (v. 17), “I exhort the elders.”
But before he does, he introduces himself again. Peter’s self-identifiers:
Then command in v. 2: “Shepherd the flock of God that is among you.”
Likely he has the words of Jesus echoing in his head—John 21 after denials:
15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.” (John 21:15–17)
SHEPHERD tradition for leaders
Task of pastoring (and leading) so similar to shepherding if done well:
And how you’re doing is easy to evaluate: How are the sheep doing? Are they healthy, protected, thriving? Then you’re doing well. Are they sick, attacked by wolves, frail? Then you’re not doing well.
How? NOT this way BUT this way…
Real authority (“exercising oversight”) but “NOT domineering.”
“Being examples” — This is where the Shepherd/Sheep metaphor breaks down. A shepherd can’t be an example for a sheep in any reasonable sense.
But remember, shepherds in a church are sheep before they’re shepherds. They’re sheep following the Chief Shepherd (1 Peter 5:4).
Why does the whole church need to hear this?
In terms of getting a healthy view of leadership in the church, verse 4 is probably the most important verse in the passage.
First, there are many shepherds but only one CHIEF SHEPHERD.
For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. (1 Pet 2:25)
Do you hear that? In chapter 5 to elders: “shepherd the flock…exercising oversight.” But here it’s Jesus! Over our very souls.
This idea didn’t come out of nowhere. Six centuries earlier Ezekiel prophesied. Rebuked Israel’s shepherds. Then in Ezekiel 34:
I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I myself will make them lie down, declares the Lord GOD…. And I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd. (Ezek 34:15, 23)
Six centuries later, the Lord Jesus himself fulfills. John 10:
14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. (John 10:14–16)
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. (John 10:27)
Second, that Chief Shepherd will be the final judge of the shepherds in the church.
“Unfading” is meant to contrast with the wreaths Romans gave for athletic or military greatness, “leafy crowns” (Schreiner).
Good to remember:
We need a healthy view of (1) the Shepherds and (2) the Chief Shepherd.
Read 1 Peter 5:5a.
First thing: Remember 5:5a is AFTER 5:4.
In 1 Peter:
Young men singled out, but calling for all in the church:
Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you. (Heb 13:17)
We said earlier, don’t DESPISE. Don’t IDOLIZE. But do—be subject to elders.
What does it mean to “be subject to the elders”?
On the godly execution of authority and submission to it in the NT church: Clearly Peter would have us respect God-given authority and submit to it, in the church and in the state. Christian submission to authority, however, is never servile, and Christian exercise of authority is never authoritarian. Our awareness of the Lord gives dignity to our obedience and humility to our rule. In both we serve him.
Edmund Clowney, The Message of 1 Peter
Healthy view of leadership: (1) Shepherds, (2) Chief Shepherd, (3) Responding to Shepherds.
Clear that God’s plan is:
Opening story: Distracted shepherds while sheep going to their death.
https://www.challies.com/christian-living/dumb-as-sheep/. Original story looks to be from The Mirror, a Ghana newspaper with a section called, “From the Foreign Media.” Dated July 16, 2005. “Radikal” was a real newspaper at the time in Turkey. “Ikizler” is an actual place in eastern Turkey.
 Susan Schoenian, shepherdess, from her sheep101.info website.
 Edmund Clowney, Wayne Grudem, and Thomas Schreiner in their 1 Peter commentaries all take the position that Peter is addressing younger men being subject to the pastors/elders (not younger people being subject to the older generation in the church). Has to do with the vocabulary used (same word for “elder” used in 5:1 and 5:5), the use of “likewise” in 5:5 which is used by Peter in 3:1–7 to connect related groups of people (wives/husbands), makes good sense to think younger men might have particular issue with submission to church authorities (as Clowney says, we aren’t the ones who invented the generation gap), and Grudem adds that the verb “be subject to” (hupotassō) feels too strong if basic respect or relational reference is what is intended.
 Clowney, The Message of 1 Peter, Bible Speaks Today (InterVarsity), 204.
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