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Session 26

Why leaders are called to be shepherds

Read: 1 Peter 5:1-11

When Peter tells the leaders in the church to be shepherds, he is simply asking them to do what Jesus asked of him many years before. 

Over breakfast on a beach, Jesus restored Peter to ministry by telling him three times to take care of His sheep (John 21:15-17). This notion of shepherding would have been as new to Peter (a former fisherman) as it feels to us today. 

But shepherding is how Jesus loved those who followed Him, and it’s how Peter calls us to love those in our care. So what does this look like? Peter offers three instructions to help leaders in the church shepherd people as Jesus did:

  • Be willing. 

Peter says to lead God’s people “not because you must, but because you are willing” (1 Peter 5:2). A leader in the church doesn’t see loving and serving other people as an obligation. It’s their hearts’ desire! 

  • Serve without expectation. 

It’s easy to fall into the trap of serving others because we expect something in return. But Peter says this is not the way leaders in the church should function (1 Peter 5:2). Instead, leaders who think like shepherds serve without regard for their own personal gain.

  • Live as an example. 

Some people, when placed in a position of authority, use it as a way to control others. But Peter tells leaders in the church to set themselves up as examples, living in a way that encourages others to follow Jesus more closely (1 Peter 5:3).

Shepherding is hard work. It’s not a role you leave at 5pm and forget about until 9am, and it’s not a role that will bring fame and fortune. But it is a role that comes with a promise. As we lead and disciple others the way Jesus did, He sees our hard work and rewards us with “the crown of glory that will never fade away” (1 Peter 5:4). 

Reflect:

  • Do you find yourself fulfilling your role because you want to, or because you feel like you have to? 
  • Do you serve others without expecting to receive anything in return? 
  • Do you exercise humility in order to live as an example to others?

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