To the elders among you… Be shepherds of God’s flock. 1 Peter 5:1-2 (NIV)
Now any community must have leaders, and Peter begins chapter 5 with some special words of encouragement to Christian leaders.
He speaks about elders in the church. From the earliest days, the church recognized spiritual leaders. Some were elected and some were appointed, but regardless they were given the responsibility of shepherding God’s flock (5:2).
It is important for leaders to remember that the flock belongs to God. Peter says that Jesus is “the shepherd and overseer of your souls.” He is “the Chief Shepherd” (5:4). That means every elder is called to serve Christ by caring for the flock. Notice Peter calls the elders overseers. That means they are to oversee the flock.
The word elder is similar to pastor, which means “shepherd.” You may not have shepherds in the area where you live, but just about everyone understands what shepherds do:
- They guard the sheep against danger, and
- They lead the sheep to places where they find pasture, and
- They search for sheep who get lost or become injured.
One of the great blessings of the church is that you come into a relationship with others who care about your spiritual well-being. This is where you are fed and nourished, and it is the responsibility of spiritual leaders to make sure that it is so.
The names that are used in different churches vary, but the principles are the same. The church is to recognize spiritually mature people to give oversight to the flock of God.
What do you know about the blessing of church leaders who care about your spiritual well-being?