1 Peter 5:1-5
Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility.
Christians were under social pressures and physical persecution was at hand. The wolves (or the lion as 5:8 will address) were attacking the flock, causing it to scatter. Therefore, the shepherds were exhorted to diligently tend the flock.
*Three interchangeable words describe the church leader in scripture. The descriptive terms also became designations for the office known as elder/pastor/bishop. Peter addresses the “elders” (presbyters, vs. 1), who are to shepherd, that is, pastor (vs. 2) the flock, as they fulfill the work of “oversight”, or bishop (vs. 2). The book of Acts does the same thing with the same three words in Acts 20. Paul “called the elders of the church” (Acts 20:17). They had been made overseers (bishops). They were instructed to “care for (shepherd, pastor) the church of God,” the flock. (Acts 20:28).
Humility Among the Shepherds, 5:1-4
Jesus taught (Matt. 20:26-28) and modeled (John 13:13-15) a serving, humble style of spiritual leadership. In this passage, Peter tasked the elders in the churches across Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia with seeing the flock through sufferings and persecution.
Peter gave the church leaders some do’s and some don’t’s in their role as elders, shepherds, and overseers.
see the call to leadership as a compulsion
Do not use the position for shameful gain
Do not domineer those in your charge
Do lead eagerly
Do lead by example
Their reward is to share in the glory of Christ who underwent suffering prior to glory as they and their churches were called to do. The partaking in glory (5:1) is restated as “the unfading crown of glory” (5:4) which they would receive from the chief shepherd, Jesus.
Humility Among the Sheep, 5:5
The call to subjection, which had been a prevalent topic in chapters two and three, comes up again as younger Christians are instructed to “be subject to the elders.” Spiritual clothing was enjoined, beginning with humility. Proverbs 3:34 is quoted: “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
For enlightenment and discussion:
Trace the thread of humility from chief shepherd, to church shepherds, to sheep. How is humility a common denominator?
How do the traits of leadership Peter prefers in this passage translate from the spiritual to the secular arena?
How is Peter’s note that he was “a witness of the sufferings of Christ” helpful to his audience?
How can you improve in your leadership tasks? How can you improve in fields where you are a follower?