Three Marks of a Godly Leader
I’m going to invite you to the book of 1 Peter 5 together. We’re finally on the last chapter of 1 Peter. Now we’ve just been taking our time going through this passage of scripture, and I’m really thankful that we’ve gone through this book together during this season because if you remember what 1st Peter is about, this book is written to a church going through adversity and Peter talks about, not only about his people being faithful but also flourishing during that time. And when you think about the beauty of this section of scripture, I mean, the letter that we’re looking at that Peter writes, he’s writing as a close friend of Jesus, and a leader in the early church, having been martyred for his faith, and he’s encouraging the churches about to go through persecution to remain faithful to Christ during those times. A very important book for us, especially in this season.
Now, I don’t want to say that we are directly connected to Peter in the sense of the type of persecution that they received. I mean, that is something beyond us, something that in America that we don’t have to wrestle with, at least on the surface. There might be something beneath the surface if you take a stand for Jesus that you might experience maybe some light hardship with that. But we’ve gone through a different season. 2020 has been a different season for us. And here’s one of the things I think that is important during the seasons, just like Peter, in the first century, when the persecution started that was certainly a different season for God’s people. But here’s what we should think about as God’s people, when we go through different seasons in life is as seasons in life shouldn’t change the depth of who we are in Jesus.
Like if you go through a circumstance that’s different, sometimes when you go through transitions in your life, whether you’re single and free, and you get married, or you have kids, or you retire, I mean the different stages in life, you’ve got to walk through in different ways, and during those changes or transitions, you’ve got to sort of figure out the new way of walking and following after Jesus when you go through those different types of seasons. The same’s true for this year, whether you wanted it or not, this year threw something different at all of us, and all of us had to figure out how to adapt to it. And the bad part about it is, you’ve got to change.
Sometimes the older you get, the less you want to change, right? You like routine, you like things to stay the same, and then you had these things rise, and you’ve got to figure out how to do things different. Now, the cool thing about it is, that it should drive us to search for Jesus in leading us through the circumstances, right? We shouldn’t be easily persuaded or see our lives becoming different, and the root of who we are, the identity of who are, just because circumstances changed, we should find ourselves rooted in Jesus. And so, when you get to 1st Peter, chapter 5, where Peter goes from this point is this idea of Godly leadership.
We’re going to look at three marks of Godly leadership today, how we lead for the cause of Christ in this world. Now, let me just say, when we talk about leadership, some of us may hear that term and be like, “When it comes to the church, I’m certainly not a leader,” and mentally, we want to check out with that. But let me just say this to remind us of what 1st Peter is about as we’re going through it together. And what Peter has wanted the early church to see is no matter their position in life, they always have a place of leadership, because leadership is not primarily about position, though that can help sometimes, in leading, being granted a position. But leadership is not primarily about position. Leadership is about influence and all of us in life have people around us that we influence and therefore in some capacity you are leading. Now the amount of people you influence can fluctuate based on position that you have. But because you are an influencer for the kingdom of God, you are a leader. And Peter has shown that to us, right?
We looked at this together in chapter 2, chapter 3, Peter talked to the specific individuals that according to society would have at it looked at or seen as being maybe beneath others. He specifically talked to slaves. He specifically talked to women, which in the first century were treated more as property than people and what we find even in the lowest positions of first century of life is that all of them had a place to be a light for Christ because all of them could influence. And we think about in terms of leadership, this affects all of us. Not only that, when you read about leadership and scripture and 1st Timothy chapter 3, Paul says this, “Any man that aspires to the position of overseer,” in King James or other translations, “Anyone that aspires to that position aspires to do a noble place or a noble position.”
And what Paul is saying is, look, not everybody in the church has got to be a pastor. There’s only a few and some days you don’t even want to aspire that, right? But not everybody’s going to hold that position. But what he’s saying is aspiring to that as a noble thing, because what Paul is recognizing in 1st Timothy 3, is that to aspire to that is to say, look, I want to live in a Godly way in light of my King to bless others around me. So when you look at what it is to be an elder in a church in 1st Timothy chapter 3, that 90% of the description is all about character and the way that you demonstrate the glory of God in this world by blessing others around you. And so aspiring to the idea oof leadership is just saying that you want to take this step for the cause of Christ, for the benefit of others, laying yourself down in this Godly character, that makes a difference in this world.
And so that’s important for all of us. And he’s going to particularly talk about it through positions here in 1st Peter chapter 5. But let’s dive into this text together because we’re going to learn some significant things as it relates to leadership and by the way, I really want to keep the idea of what he says here simple. Meaning, I don’t want to wow you in just the three simple statements I want to give, but just really solidify what Peter is saying in light of leadership, especially during times of adversity. And the first thing that he says to us, the first blank on our sheet, if you’ve got sermon notes with you is this. Godly leaders invest in others. Godly leaders are willing to invest in others and we get this 1st Peter 5:1. Let me just read this verse to us. He says, “I exhort the elders among you as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed.”
So what we’re going to see in this verse, as we start to unpack is Peter is interested in the investment in others around him for the glory of God, that they can be faithful and flourished during this time of adversity. And the question we need to ask ourselves is what are they investing? Because all of us are investing something in someone. When you think about what it means to live for the glory of God versus what we tend to do sometimes from day to day, I mean, you’re making a disciple of something in this world and what you make a disciple of honestly is what you’re passionate about.
Like sometimes I say, I love the Utah Jazz. I hope in my lifetime I see them win an NBA championship, right? And I will talk about the Jazz. I will try to influence you to love the Jazz with me, right? There’s certain things in life that if you’re passionate about it, you, you encourage other people to it. And the same is true with Jesus. The things that you really love in life, you share. So when we talk about this investing, it’s not just investing just to be there. It’s not just about being present to be present, but it’s about what you center your life upon, because that’s what you encourage people too. And so this is what you see with the life of Peter in 1st Peter 5:1. He says, “He is a witness of the suffering and a partaker of the glory.”
And so what Peter is saying is that his investment centers upon where he has rooted his life in. And he has directly encountered the suffering of Christ. And not only that, he has become the suffering of Christ by living his life to honor Jesus and the things that he’s done. And so he’s a partaker of the glory that is to come. And then he says this, that he is a fellow elder. Peter is an elder. Now this word elder tends to culturally relate to a word for wisdom or maturity. In Peter’s day in order to become a rabbi as a Jew, you had to be at least 30 years old, because what they would recognize is the older you get, the more you tend to have wisdom.
That’s not to say, just because you’re older, you have all the wisdom of the world. Like there’s plenty of young people that can be wise and there’s plenty of old people that might be lacking a little bit of wisdom. But it tends to be the older you get, the more wisdom you gain. And so when we look at Peter’s life here, he’s identifying himself as an elder saying, “Look, I got something to give to you to invest in you because of the experience that I have related to Jesus. That I’ve even shared in this suffering. I’ve partaken of the glory.” Like his life has demonstrated what he is proclaiming, right? And so when you think about what it means to invest in others, you invest what you’ve gained in your relationship with Jesus.
It’s not about keeping it to yourself, but seeing it transpire into the lives of other people around you. That the most important thing about you is your identity, why you exist, where you came from, where you’re going. And all of that is rooted in God. And sharing that with others, helps them discover the same thing as you. And so Godly leaders invest in others. I love the way Peter relates this to people. He says how he invests, he says this, as your fellow elder.
Meaning when you think about important people in the church in the first century, and you start to draw that list. I know Paul is going to be on that list. And most likely Peter is going to be on the list. For peace sake Jesus said to him, “Upon this rock, I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail.” And he’s making that statement to Peter. Peter is an important leader in the early church and in this moment, rather than super impose his position and just saying, listen to me, because I tell you so. What Peter does and in his terms here is rather than being seen as superior, he wants to be seen as equal among his peers. And he says, as a fellow elder, side-by-side, spending time, walking with you in life, not dominating.”
So what Peter is showing us is he’s got grit, he’s got care, he’s got credibility because of the way he’s sustained his life in Jesus. And what you see in this example is that Godly leaders don’t expect from people what they aren’t willing to give themselves, right? And so in the kind of investment when Peter comes alive to people, he walks with his credibility because he has walked with Jesus in hardship to the point that he’s willing to give his life.
I learned this lesson very early in my move to Utah. When I first moved here in 2004, 2005, I remember I moved here. I had some friends, lived here their whole lives. And first week here, I’m like, what’s something cool. I had a friend that came out with me and they helped us move in really. And we’re like, “What’s something cool that we can do in this area that if you’re in Utah County, that just people just do.” And he tells us this thing, because he’s lived in Utah County his whole life of what we should do in order to put down our roots and show ourselves to Utah County people and he says this, you should, you should float the Provo river. And at that point I’m so new. I didn’t even know there was a Provo River, right? Well they all right. Let’s float the Provo River. That sounds awesome, right? And so how do we do this? And so he explains to us how to do this, but he doesn’t do it himself. And what I come to find out is sometimes people make things up.
Because what he said to us was go to Provo River and we’re like, “Okay, now where do we get in? And what do we do? And what does this look like?” He says, “Go buy a raft and you go up the river to this park and you get out.” And we ask him the name of the park. He tells us the name of the park is Vivian Parkway. Okay, we’ll go get out of Vivian park and we’ll just float down the river because that’s what people in Utah can only do. From time to time, you float down Provo River.
So we go up there and we put in Vivian park and very quickly in our trip, we said to ourselves, do people really flew from Vivian Park down in Provo River? And about half a mile in, we lose our shoes and we each bought two rafts in case one popped, but about half a mile in both of our rafts pop and it got so bad and so rocky that we’re sitting on these inner tubes and both of us ended up with 12 plus size bruises, the darkest you’ve ever seen on our hindquarters. I mean it was an awful experience. And what I found out is and I wish we had paid more attention to this, that people don’t start floating on the Provo River from Vivian park.
That’s where you get out and the reason they get out is because from that point on, it gets dangerous. Don’t float down the river from there. And here’s what we learned about leadership. Like there are leaders that will just sit armchair quarterbacks and call the shots. And there are the leaders that will walk life with you. And sometimes just because people say something to you, doesn’t make it correct, right? And this person that we come to find out, we get back we’re like, “Are you sure people do that?” Like he had never even done it himself. And so leaders invest in others. And what we invest is what we learn from Jesus because we walk a consistent life with him. And so when Peter talks about Godly leadership, he begins with his own example.
Now let me just tell you, when you look at this text of scripture of verses 1 and 2, it teaches us something significant in this passage. And I want you to see this. Peter shows us the terminology that’s used for leadership in scripture. I’m often asked as a pastor, like what, what is your title. Before I tell them I’m a pastor, people ask what is your title? If they want to call me by something they ask is it reverend, is it minister, is it pastor, is it grand poo ball, superior supreme ruler of all things, like what is your title, right? And 1st Peter does something interesting and the first two verses, he uses every New Testament title for, when I say professional minister or a pastor, in this passage of scripture. Now I don’t make much about titles and here’s part of the reason.
When you look at verse 4, what it says is Jesus is the chief shepherd. And that is the most, that is the interest that we should have beyond anything else. Jesus is the chief shepherd. He calls people, shepherds, leaders shepherds in this. But he says in verse 4, Jesus is the chief shepherd. And so no matter what happens today, our desire and heart hope for everyone here, anyone that listens is to pursue him because at some point earthly leaders will fail you. Have you ever been the victim of just poor leadership, like as leadership goes, so goes the people. And there is suffering when leadership is done poorly. That’s why the New Testament is so careful in how it describes leadership, what leadership should look like? Titus 1, 1st Timothy 3 and beyond that and it tells you to be slow to appoint leaders because not all leaders are good and all of them have the right intentions.
And so that’s why the chief shepherd becomes supreme for us. So whatever you think about Jesus, whatever position you think that I hold, I am below that. And that’s all I care because I care more about what you think about Christ than about me. And so when you look at 1st Peter 5:1&2, through that look at these terms. I want you to see this. He says this, “Exalt the elders among you.” So you see that title, as your fellow elder. There’s the title again used, as an elder and witness of the suffering of Christ and a partaker also of the glory that has to be refilled. And he says this,” Shepherd the flock of God among you exercising oversight.”
So three words he uses here in title of church leadership. He uses this word elder. He uses this word shepherd, and he uses this word oversight. King James translates it as bishop. But here’s what you need to know. They’re all the same thing. The New Testament uses them all interchangeably. Elder, bishop, pastor, not different, not different. They’re all the same in the New Testament. An elder is a bishop, is a pastor. That’s the way the terminology is used in the New Testament.
So you ask, well then why in the world? Why does he use these different terms? Well, he’s describing different things. The word elder is presbuteros, it’s where you get the word presbyterian. The word overseer bishop is where you get the word episcopalian episcopals. And the word shepherd is where we get the word pastor. Elder describes the maturity an individual that’s demonstrated this sort of wisdom. An overseer describes responsibility and then the term shepherd or pastor describes the ministry. In this text, that’s used as a verb. Most of the time it’s used as a noun, but in this text it’s used as a verb.
So all of them are the same thing, but this is where Peter uses these terms to help us understand what leadership is about. And so point number 2, let me tell you this in your blankets, Godly leaders help nourish others. Rather than just simply say Godly leaders nourish others. The reason I say help is because the leader himself has never intended to be sort of the peak of your spiritual life. It’s the chief shepherd. It’s Jesus. It’s the point to him in all things. And so he’s saying the Godly leaders help shepherd. When you look at verse 2, it says this, Peter says, “Shepherd the flock of God among you. Shepherd the flock of God among you.” Sometimes you think about ministries. Ministries can get off track. They rank some things that are important that God never really intends to be important. Meaning, sometimes people can make ministry about numbers, how many people show up, how many people are intended, how many people get baptized, the offering of the church where it’s at.
I think numbers have a place. They can be important. Like if I take my kids to the grocery store, which I don’t think I’ve done in a while, if I were to do that and I leave with four and come back with three, my wife’s going to be like, “numbers are important here.” Numbers have a place, but that’s not the ultimate thing that God is interested in. What God is interested in is your heart.
I always say, as a church, like our desire isn’t really about being big or small. Our desire is about being healthy. And we want to know Jesus and we want to encourage people to know Jesus. And so he’s saying, “Shepherd, the flock among you.” This is the goal, to help nourish is by pointing people to the ultimate shepherd who is Christ. And when he’s saying this shepherd the flock of God, he’s identifying two key people here, right? The sheep and the shepherd. The sheep and the shepherd. And when you think in terms of, of the shepherd, love that the picture in scripture. I mean, especially as it connects to Jesus, the Lord is my shepherd, right? Psalm 23.
I mean, those are just comforting words because Jesus is so good. In John 10: 11-14, Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd.” In case we forget what we’re supposed to follow in our lives. It’s not a bad shepherd. It’s not a false shepherd, it’s the good shepherd and Jesus describes himself as that. The word shepherding is such a comforting word because shepherd is the one who cares for the sheep and the Bible describes us the sheep. And the purpose of this care is to help be healthy and equipped and reproducing as sheep. And that’s God’s desire for you is to see your life flourish and then see that multiply out of you.
When you think about leadership in the church, that is the goal of leadership in the church. The goal of anyone that might be in a position like me is not to do the ministry for everybody. In fact, Ephesians 4:11 and 12, it says, “God gave pastors to equip the saints to do the work of the ministry.” And then he goes on to say how that happens. And it’s through the living of God’s word. It says in Ephesians 4:15, “Little ones speak the truth in love.” And so it’s coming to the word of God, encouraging our souls to live that out so that all of us can go forth and do the work in the ministry because God calls us all into ministry.
There’s really no such thing as professionals. We’re all doing this for Jesus together for his glory and to the benefit of others. And so this idea of, of shepherd, it’s a beautiful passage. And then he talks about sheep. And you know, when you think about sheep, they’re sort of endearing animals. They’re docile, they’re comforting. Like you’re never going to see a sign on the side of the road that says, beware of sheep, right? Sheep are comforting animals. They’re like clouds with legs. If I had to fall asleep on an animal, if that ever became a law, like you have to do, I’m picking a sheep, right? They look so comfortable and so sheep are kind of that calming animal. There’s a reason when you go to bed at night that you don’t count lions and tigers and bears, right? You count sheep. They’re just fluffy. Even if they fall, they’re laying on the cushion, right?
They’re beautiful little creatures in and of themselves. But on top of that, I mean, if you know a little bit more about sheep, you know that sheep are also needy animals. They can’t make it on their own. Isaiah 53:6 says, “All of us like sheep.” So it says, every one of us are sheep, but the rest of the verse says, have gone astray. We’re really good at getting lost. All of us have gone astray. All of us like sheep have gone astray. This is why we need a shepherd and why it’s important to see Jesus as our chief shepherd and all of us like sheep have gone astray. And if you’ve got the sermon notes this morning on paper, you’ll even see on the side of this, there is a picture of a sheep I put there for you. And you can look this up later online if you want.
But this sheep was found in 2004, after being lost for six years in New Zealand. So if you Google sheep lost six years, New Zealand, you’ll find it. But when you see a picture of this sheep up close, this sheep lived in a cave and was unattended to and the wool just grew over his face to the point he couldn’t even see. He just sat in the cave and complained all day. It’s kind of like us on the heat. You leave me in the heat too long, I’m going to get a little crabby and the sheep just sits there in this cave, just worried because he can’t see anything. And for six years left unattended and it hadn’t gone any longer then he could have choked to death on its own wool because it started to encapsulate its face so much. Sheep need a shepherd. In fact, the only time sheep are painted in a positive light in the Bible is when they have a good shepherd.
That’s why Psalm 23 is such a beautiful passage, right? The Lord is my shepherd. When you just read those words and it does something calming to your soul. The Lord is my shepherd. So Godly leaders, they help nourish as they point people to the good shepherd. Third is this Godly leaders take responsibility. In verse 2, he says, “Shepherd the flock of God among you exercising oversight.” This word oversight King James translates as Bishop. It means take responsibility, which is a great thing to discuss in a culture that is starting to lean more towards being a blame culture. At some point, somebody has to take responsibility. If you want to see change, someone has to be willing to lead. Someone has to be willing to sacrifice for the benefit of others.
Thank God the Lord did it for us. In pursuing him, this is what the Lord says. Part of understanding what take responsibility means is really understanding the difference between an employee and an owner. When you think about an employee and an owner, an employee will work for a company, but an owner works on the company. An employee at the end of the day can leave it. I know there’s some employees that care to a different grade than others, but an owner when he quits caring, things fall apart. An employee works for a company and owner works on the company and this is why I say this is because when we understand our position in Jesus, remember in Ephesians or excuse me, 1st Peter 2:9 what he said to us? You’re a royal priesthood. People of God’s own possession. You have a place, you have ownership, you’re royalty in the kingdom of God, it belongs to all of us in him. That’s all ultimately his but there’s ownership there in the way that we represent it.
And so Godly leaders take responsibility. And Paul, in order to explain that to us gets a little bit further. He says, “Shepherd the flock of God among you exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but voluntarily according to the will of God.” So when Godly leaders take responsibility, the next blank is they do so willingly not reluctantly. They do so willingly, not reluctantly. What we mean is this. They see leadership as a gift, not a burden. They see leadership as an opportunity, not an obligation. And that’s really important for us to understand because this directly correlates to understanding a healthy position that you have in Jesus. I say this often for me as a Christian, but the greatest doctrine I’ve learned in the Lord that’s helped me serve him is the assertive God.
I mean, when I grew up as a kid, I grew up very timid, shy, don’t want to get in front of people. If I have to give an oral book report in grade school and I’d take an F just because I don’t want to do that. But then I learned about the estate of God, which means the sustainability of God within himself. That’s what the estate he talks about. That God is self-sufficient. I mean, he’s not in need of anything. And so you think in terms of leadership, this is what God is saying is, he doesn’t need you. God doesn’t need you.
Now for some people that causes a little bit of panic, like if he doesn’t need me, what’s going to happen to me, right? I need God to need me. But the reality is, God doesn’t need you and here’s why. Because God has all he needs within himself. He didn’t create you because he needed you. God created you because he loves you. Okay? And that’s a different approach because what that says to you is the way you live your life in this world it’s not all on your shoulders. There’s nowhere that you’ve been in life that God hasn’t already been there. There’s nothing that you are going through right now that the Lord doesn’t know. God knows right where you’re at and God knows what you need where you’re at.
And so when you think about in terms of leadership, it’s not this great responsibility that no one else can bear and you’re barely doing it yourself. It’s to understand, “Look, this is under the authority of an incredible God of all the power in the world and it’s not doing this because I’m obligated to, it’s a privilege to even serve this King that he would rescue my life for his glory.” And now I have an opportunity to do something about it, of which God didn’t have to grant to me, but he did. And from that becomes a place of joy because God’s given me position worth value and meaning in him.
I love those passages and scripture in the Bible that says, “Go to the world and make disciples.” And he says, and lo I am with you always. In fact, Joshua 1:9, what the kids are memorizing this week for their summer memory verse it says, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong, have courage, be not afraid. Don’t be dismayed for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” So he’s given this command to Joshua. He’s leading with this reminder, look, you’re not doing it on your own. I’m walking with you. So we take responsibility, but not reluctantly, but willingly because we understand where we are positionally in Jesus and that God walks with us and all those things. And then, God’s leaders take responsibility to give not to get. He says this in verse 2 and not for sort of gain, but with eagerness. Not for sort of gain, but with eagerness. Let me just say this, there are far too many leaders in this world that do things because they care more about what other people think about them than what they think about Jesus.
They just want to look cool, sound cool, be cool, dress cool. I missed the boat on that one, but their interest is more on what you think about them. Godly leadership isn’t about what you get, it’s about what you give. And the reason we’re able to give is because of what Jesus has given to us. When you think about what it means to live for God, I think our hearts are inspired by sacrificial leaders. I mean, if I gave us an example that every one of the Marvel movies that just came out, right? Especially the last one, Robert Downey jr dies, right? But what’s so captivating about that?
Well, here’s a leader who lays his life down for the benefit of others. I mean, you think about what movies entail. There’s a gospel story in them, right? Someone somehow rescues someone in need. There’s something intrinsically written in us that’s just compelled by the idea of that sort of gospel living that when you see a leader do such a thing, it’s inspirational in your lives and so Godly leadership is not about what you get, it’s about what you give.
And the last is this. After I say, get and give, let me tell you one thing that we take. Godly leaders take responsibilities as models, not monsters. We take responsibility, sometimes people see that responsibility is becoming tyrannical in their leadership. Not Peter, right? He says, as a fellow elder, Godly leadership is about being a model, not a monster and if you look at the passage in verse 3, he says this, not yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock. Not monsters but models. I think Peter’s illustration here gives to us really the best we can encapsulate what he’s saying when he says that they lead the flock, right? They’re examples to the flock.
When you talk about the flock, what he’s talking about are sheep and here’s what’s important to know about sheep. Sheep, aren’t driven. They’re led. You think about what it means to be a shepherd, shepherds don’t get behind the sheep and just yell at them to move because sheep don’t know where to go. All of us like sheep have gone astray, Isaiah 53:6. You want a group of sheep to move, you’ve got to lead, not drive. And unfortunately, sometimes leadership looks in the negative way rather than the way that Peter describes here where a leader thinks the way to move people is to strike fear and to intimidate and to bring down pressure, all fury, right? But that’s not what Peter says. He says, “Get in the front and keep calling.” Sheep follow the shepherd. And Peter has given us this beautiful illustration in our lives of what it means to be a leader by recognizing that` you can in your own home. Like God calls all of us to pastor and shepherd our homes.
You can in your home take responsibility by becoming that tyrant that demands, right? And you can put the pressure on your children to do things and you can force them to do things, but you don’t want your breed within them. It’s a harder rebellion. I know you can’t always control what every kid does or goes through. Not every child is perfect. And sometimes, like me, you got to learn things the hard way. But more than anything, what we’re called to go after is God’s people, isn’t behavior, but the heart. And when you come in like a tyrant, what you modify as the behavior, but you don’t reach the heart.
That doesn’t mean you don’t discipline your kids. I think that that’s important to do, but to understand that as a parent, you model in front of them. And you think about when you go on a hike in these mountains, and if you’ve never been in a hike in Utah and you live in Utah, shame on you. You got to go on a hike in Utah. But when you go to the mountains and you look for a place to hike, do you know where you go? You find a trail. You don’t just start in some random place, unless you got something wrong with you. You want to get eaten by bears, but you look for a trail. You know what that means or shows, trail is a demonstration that a leader has gone before you to blaze it. And that’s what leadership’s about.
That’s about the wisdom, as Peter says, as an elder of what he’s learning God to show people how to walk the trail, because he himself has walked in. You want to lead for Jesus, walk with Jesus. You cannot impart what you do not possess. And so this is what Peter reminds us, that we become models as we’re enriched in Christ. And then he says this in verse 4. And when the chief shepherd appears you will receive the unfading crown of glory. So the big question for all of us is why would we do this? Why would we lead? For what purpose if it’s not for the praise of man. And he shows us this, the chief shepherd and this unfading crown of glory. And here’s what Peter’s illustration is. During Peter’s day, when someone would win a competition and especially in the Olympic games, what you would get is a wreath. You don’t get a gold medal, that’s a modern day celebration. And during Peter’s day, you got a wreath, literally a bowl of salad to put on your head.
And here’s what happens after about a week, your glory fades. It’s gone. What he’s recognizing in verse 4, that there is a greater glory, greater purpose for which you can live for and it never goes away. If we would just by faith follow after this shepherd. So Peter has given our eyes off the things in this world to say, look, let it go and live for a greater play. Lay your life down. You’re never going to lead the way that God calls you to lead until you lay your life down because God doesn’t call us to have leadership. He calls us to a devotion completely in him, growing in him, and then sharing that passion for him with others as we come to know and delight in him.
We don’t let circumstances change who we are. That’s what Peter is saying to us. We want to flourish in faith so that when you can go through hard things, you can come out stronger for it as you walk with Jesus in it. Now here’s the beautiful thing about a shepherd. Even in hardship and especially in hardships, shepherds remain consistent. Jesus does. He calls us to do the same.
When I first moved out to Utah, I had friends, two friends that moved to Israel at the same exact time, and we would share pictures back and forth. But here’s what was really crazy about our pictures we shared back and forth. Like, I didn’t know Utah had the Jordan River, but they live near the Jordan river too. And so here we are sharing pictures back and forth. Did you know the Jordan River here looks just like the Jordan River in Israel? And was what’s even crazier is the mountains behind us. I remember sending some pictures of just the lower mountains behind us and they would send pictures and it looked exactly the same, exactly the same. It was incredible to see their pictures. It was almost like we were like in the same backyard. A lot of Israel’s terrain looks similar to Utah’s terrain, especially in our area. And here’s one of the things I learned from them though, as shepherds in that land, because they’re still shepherds today is when the spring starts, the mountains are rich because the air has been moist and cool and the grass grows, right?
But as the sun comes out and it begins to beat against the earth, the grass starts to die. And the only way that a shepherd can help nourish the sheep is to take them into the Valley, into the crevices of the mountains. But here’s, what’s interesting about the sheep. Sheep don’t like to go there. They don’t like to go down the hill, they don’t have great eyesight and so they’ve got to trust in their shepherd. And the shepherd during those hard seasons is willing to take them down into the valley to continue to guide and direct. And guys, when I think about our world today, there are things that we can complain about.
There are things that aren’t going well, right? But there is this riches that we have in Jesus. And rather than just complain, God’s got you in a place to point people to something that satisfies the soul. Wherever you are, whoever you influence, are you willing to lead the flock into the Valley to still let them taste the richness that is the chief shepherd who comes to rescue the soul? That’s what Peter’s encouraging us to hear. When you look at this story, you may say, in my own life right now, I don’t even have that joy. How do I find that joy to even want to encourage people to that shepherd? And let me just say, there’s a reason Peter waited until chapter 5 to talk about leadership. And the reason he waited until chapter 5, the reason he didn’t just start in the very beginning in telling leaders what to do is because in chapter 1, he wanted to set the precedent of the goodness of who this God is.
We love because he loved. That’s when we allow our souls to be enriched in the goodness of who he is that we find our hearts compelled to point to that glory. To lead, to continually, to be enriched, to lead, we must first find our souls satisfied in him. And let me say this morning, if you’ve never trusted in the shepherd, the shepherd’s desire is to lead your soul, to lead your soul from destruction and not just about what you’re avoiding, but to lead your soul to life in him. Both now in all of eternity, the beauty of Jesus is when you think about in terms of a relationship and having it, it doesn’t start when you die, it starts in the moment you trust in him. And for us following after Jesus continues as we trust in him.