Transforming Ordinary People into Extraordinary Followers of Christ

1 Peter – 1 Peter 5:1-4 – A Shepherd’s Job Description

1 Peter – 1 Peter 5:1-4 – 15 of 18


Churches face the challenge of expectations—those of the pastor and of the congregation. And we disappoint each other when we don’t meet those unrealistic expectations. Fortunately, 1 Peter 5:1-4 gives us God’s expectations. Notice that Peter, the leader of Jesus’ apostles, humbly addresses leaders as a peer (“your fellow elder”, v. 1). The terms elder, pastor and overseer can be used interchangeably; with “elder” connoting experience, wisdom and authority. To what does Peter exhort them? What is their job description as leaders in their church? “Shepherd the flock of God among you…” (v. 2). This a command, not a suggestion. An elder’s primary responsibility is to shepherd the flock. A shepherd leads, feeds and protects those in his charge. That’s his main job. Jesus told Peter, “Peter, if you really love me, do this one thing; lovingly tend my sheep.”(John 21:15-17). 

[1] Pastors should serve willingly (“…not under compulsion, but voluntarily…”, v. 2). No one twisted their arm; they are of their own free will. 

[2] Pastors should minister out of an inner conviction that God has called them into this ministry (“…according to the will of God…”, v. 2). This isn’t just a job, it is a calling. It is what I’m meant to do. 

[3] Pastors should serve eagerly and unselfishly (“…not for sordid gain, but eagerly…”, v. 2). The pastor’s heart motivation cannot be about the money, or about advancing his ego. 

[4] Pastors should model servant leader (“…not lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock…”, v. 3). Biblical leadership isn’t about wielding power over others; it is about serving them. Of course, Peter learned this directly from Jesus (Matthew 20:25-28). Martin Luther King Jr. said this about servant leadership: “Not everybody can be famous. But everybody can be great, because greatness is determined by service…You only need a heart full of grace and a soul generated by love.” 

[5] Pastors should see themselves as stewards of “those allotted to their charge” (v. 3). Who allotted them to our charge? God did—therefore we are responsible to him for how we shepherd them. Pastors aren’t acquiring followers on their own; God brings people to himself. God certainly uses leaders in building his church, but it is God who causes the growth (1 Corinthians 3:3-7). Our focus should be on Jesus; he is worthy of recognition and praise. 

Yet God rewards faithful followers (“…when the Chief Shepherd appears you will receive the unfading crown of glory”, v. 4). Imagery from the famous Greek athletic games is found throughout the New Testament and is an apt analogy to the Christian life. Believers, like athletes, must train hard and endure hardships on the way to their reward (1 Corinthians 9:23-27). Peter says that pastors who faithfully shepherd their flocks will be rewarded when Jesus returns. Their work, their sacrifices are not made in vain. God sees and rewards. But that is true for all of us. We are all stewards of God’s resources. Everything we have comes from him. And at the judgment seat of Christ how well we have managed those resources, how faithful we have been to God’s will, will be evaluated and rewarded (2 Corinthians 5:10). It really does matter how we live. 

Well, it is one thing to spell out a job description, it is quite another to consistently live up to it. But this is what God has called pastors too, and I want to ask you to pray for your pastors and church staff. Encourage us when we get it right, and extend grace to us when don’t. Discouragement is one of the biggest reasons that pastors leave the ministry. And that discouragement is often the result of lingering criticism. And even when criticism is deserved, make sure it is delivered graciously. There is a difference between constructive criticism and destructive criticism. One attacks motives and the other ministry execution. One points the finger, and says, “How could you?” the other offers a hand and says, “How can I help. How can I be a part of the solution?” We are all in this together, and the Bible teaches that in an important sense we are all God’s ministers. We have all be gifted to serve. The Great Commission to go into the world and make disciples has been given to all of us—not just to pastors. We can’t do it alone. We are not meant to. But together we can make a difference. 



Each week, write down one doable concrete step of obedience, small or large, that you will put into practice this week. (James 1:22: “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.”)

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