“… not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock …” (1 Peter 5:3).
The world’s system says to be first and to use people to build your kingdom, your empire. People don’t have souls, they say, but are merely tools to help you get what you want. If people can’t help you get what you want, toss them aside as yesterday’s garbage and surround yourself with people who will help you! This was the system in the Roman world, and it’s the system that is here now!
Even James and John, two of Jesus’ disciples (along with their mother) were caught up in this, asking to have her sons sit beside Jesus in his kingdom! They wanted the positions of authority and power! Jesus set them straight:
You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you! But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:42-45).
Christ’s system is to serve, not to be served! It’s to use the power of God to build up people for God into a Kingdom of God!
Remember the man who took money so he could pray for someone? He is wanting to have an empire—not set an example! A man by the name of Sumner Wemp said, “As a Christian should be, a pastor must be!” Because whatever empire we are building will go up in smoke for certain one day. One glorious, terrifying, majestic, horrific day when why? Look at 1 Peter 5:4-5: “When the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory” (1 Peter 5:4).
“When” means that this is as certain as anything you may find yourself certain about, and even more! Pastors may believe they ultimately lead their flock, but that’s not true! Pastors are undershepherds, not chief shepherds!!! Christ will look favourably on those who have taken care of His church, His flock! To those who use His people for their own means—the day of the Lord’s return will not be welcomed!
As a final charge to everyone, I read to you verse 5:
Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.
Hudson Taylor was scheduled to speak at a Large Presbyterian church in Melbourne, Australia. The moderator of the service introduced the missionary in eloquent and glowing terms. He told the large congregation all that Taylor had accomplished in China, and then presented him as “our illustrious guest.” Taylor stood quietly for a moment, and then opened his message by saying, “Dear friends, I am the little servant of an illustrious Master.”
The older one gets, the wiser one should get. Notice how the Apostle Paul “progressed.”
- I am the least of the apostles. 1 Corinthians 15:9
- I am the very least of all the saints. Ephesians 3:8
- I am the foremost of sinners. 1 Timothy 1:15
Yet we would all do well to hear Jesus’ words in Matthew 23:1-12:
1 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, 2 “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, 3 so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice. 4 They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger. 5 They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, 6 and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues 7 and greetings in the marketplaces and being called rabbi by others. 8 But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers. 9 And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. 10 Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ. 11 The greatest among you shall be your servant. 12 Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.
May we who are ministers here not be ones where people only hear what we preach in the pulpit, but avoid what we do outside of it!
- We must not add extra burdens and rules and traditions to the backs of our weary people—but show them the yoke of Christ whose yoke is easy and burden light!
- We must not be willing to be seen by others, and that being our only motive—our motive must be to be seen faithful to Christ and Him alone, regardless of what others may think of us.
- We must not work simply to have the seat of honor. The only seat that matters is the throne of God and His kingly rule—not ours!
- We must not love our titles (Father, Rabbi, Rev., Pastor, Dr., or even bishop). We already have a Father! We already have a teacher and instructor! We already have a Great Shepherd over the church. Jesus said, “My sheep know my voice!” Are you His sheep, dear church? Do you recognize Christ’s voice?
In the summer of 1986, two ships collided in the Black Sea off the coast of Russia. Hundreds of passengers died as they were hurled into the icy waters below. News of the disaster was further darkened when an investigation revealed the cause of the accident. It wasn’t a technology problem like radar malfunction–or even thick fog. The cause was human stubbornness. Each captain was aware of the other ship’s presence nearby. Both could have steered clear, but according to news reports, neither captain wanted to give way to the other. Each was too proud to yield first. By the time they came to their senses, it was too late.
Beware of allowing personal prejudices and pride to subvert your spiritual sensibilities. The Great Shepherd calls, and soon the Great Shepherd will come. This Shepherd called the shepherd to shepherd, and to be shepherded.