Part 1 discussed Paul’s perspective on leadership. Today we’ll look at Peter’s. These two men were the primary leaders of the first generation of believers. I’m amazed that their distinct leadership did not split the fledgling Church. Two dynamic apostles, living in different places, ministering to different people. Many considered them rivals, and they publicly disagreed on a major theological dispute, but stayed united to the end. We’re here as a result.
Few leaders holding similar positions and of similar gravitas have managed this feat, even in the Church. Despite their differences, Paul and Peter’s view of leadership was the same—the exact opposite of the world’s perspective. Don’t be deceived, you cannot lead the Church by mimicking the world. You may build a big church, you may gain wealth or fame, but it will not stand the test of fire (I Corinthians 3:10-15).
Peter’s introduction in verse one puts it all in perspective: “I appeal as a fellow elder and a witness of Christ’s suffering who also will share in the glory to be revealed…” When we step up to lead in the church, we follow the footsteps of those who’ve gone before. We lead in light of the suffering of Jesus—His blood poured out, His mission to reconcile mankind; we lead in light of eternity. One day we will stand before the throne and give account. Let’s live for that day, not for the cheap and temporary pleasures of this world.
“Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under you care, watching over them – not because you must, but because you are willing as God wants you to be” Your church is not your church. Jesus is the Great Shepherd; He is the One who died for the flock. It’s an incredible honor to carry His title, but we need to avoid the temptation into thinking that church exists to serve us. Most problems in Christian leadership begin by failing to understand our place.
“Not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve” Root out greed! Seriously! How many times do we need to hear this? Don’t let money serve as your primary motivation in ministry.
“Not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock” Model servant leadership. In the world, the followers serve the vision of the leader. In the Kingdom, the leader sets the example and serves the church. Leaders lay down their rights, leaders sacrifice, and leaders lead by example. Your example will be far more powerful than your words. Words increase knowledge, but a godly example will shape culture. Who you are will always make a far greater impact than what you say.
“Clothe yourselves with humility toward one another” Live humbly. Success is one of the greatest dangers in leadership. Avoid the temptation to find your identity in the fruit of your ministry. When the ministry struggles you’ll live insecure, then when things excel, you’ll slip into pride. Both reveal your immaturity and worldly thinking. You may be able to draw a crowd or utilize a leadership gift, but you cannot change a heart. Real transformation only takes place when we recognize our inability to provide it.
“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” Go to God with your worries and fears. Few people can relate to the anxiety facing pastors. We hold people in their greatest loss. We carry the weight of people’s sin, and watch the destruction unfold in those they love. We watch our friends leave the church. I’ve found that at almost any point in time, there is at least something that weighs heavily on my mind. To thrive in ministry we must learn to cast our worries onto Jesus. We need to let Him carry the burden and learn to trust that He is truly in control.
“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him…” Aggressively fight temptation. We need to remember that we’re at war. Complacency is a dangerous place for a pastor to walk. We’ve been empowered to overcome and can live confident, but we must also live with the awareness that temptation lurks in the shadows. Find brothers and sisters to walk with. Live a transparent life. Confess sin while it’s still just a seed, not once it’s already in full bloom.
Above all, let’s fix our eyes on Jesus, always remembering that “the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.”