Today’s New Testament lesson (1 Peter 5:1-14) is one of those passages that I hope expresses the spirit of my ministry:
To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder and a witness of Christ’s sufferings who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.
I’m not sure that I could ever “live fully” into this particular job description; in its simple summons to watch over, to serve, and to be an example there are endless opportunities to question my motivations, my methods, and my devotion to the task. But on the whole, I’m captured by the notion of being a servant of the “Chief Shepherd”; and as a result, it means a great deal to me that my congregation has come to think of me not as “Reverend Martin” but as “Pastor Alex.”
Of course, while this passage is addressed specifically to “elders” who have a specific role within the churches to which Peter is writing, I think that it’s fair to point out that just about everybody has a “flock that is under your care.” It might be a family or a group of friends; it could be neighbors or a group of coworkers. But whatever the particular nature of our “flock,” God has placed all of us within situations where we have the opportunity to “be shepherds”. So, how different might the world be if all of us who follow the “Chief Shepherd” embraced the opportunities that He gives us to watch over, to serve, and to be an example?
May all of us serve faithfully in the fields of our Lord this week; and may we live a life worthy of our Chief Shepherd, who promises to reward all of His good and faithful servants.