Leaders as Shepherds (5:1-4)
Welcome to Week 8 of your 1 Peter Bible Study.
This week we’ll take a look at Peter’s admonitions to “elders”, who were considered the leaders / pastors in the New Testament church.
The thrust of Peter’s exhortations are derived from the shepherd image.
The Shepherd Image
As you know, the shepherd image has a long history within the Bible. Indeed, much of the Exodus story is told with elements of that image: God leading his people through the wilderness, feeding, caring and protecting them. In biblical history, this image passes from God to his leaders as Moses, David and the elders here in the NT are referred to as shepherds.
Of course, the ultimate shepherd is Jesus. The gospel of John elaborates this theme by calling him the good shepherd. After Jesus’ resurrection, he passes the mantle of shepherding to his followers when he tells Peter, “feed my sheep” in John 21. Here in 1 Peter, it is now the apostle passing on the mantle of shepherd to those who would lead God’s flock (1 Peter 5:2).
We should first point out that one does not have to be a pastor or church leader to apply these verses. Anyone who was any kind of oversight or responsibility for other people (small group, bible study, discipleship, committee) would greatly benefit from Peter’s advice to elders in this section.
Read 1 Peter 5:1-4
Questions to reflect on the passage
- Why does Peter call himself a “co-elder” and a “partaker” of the glory to be revealed?
- What could Peter be referring to when he states that he was a “witness to the sufferings of Christ”? (See 1:10-11 and 4:1 for additional insight.)
- Why would Peter use the image of the shepherd to talk about Christian leadership for the church? (See Psalm 23 and Ezek 34:1-8.)
Peter lists three sets of instructions for leaders, one positive and one negative.
- List each positive and negative trait. Why would Peter highlight these characteristics for leaders?
- What is the reward awaiting those who fulfill their shepherd responsibilities?
- Why does Peter call Jesus the chief-shepherd and how should that influence the way elders lead?
Questions to reflect on your life
- Can you think of examples (personal or otherwise) where you have encountered leaders who portray the negative elements Peter highlights? Elaborate.
- What traits of a shepherd do you need to develop in order to be a better leader?
- In what particular ways can you be an “example” to those people who look up to you or over whom you have influence?
- Are there particular traits mentioned by Peter that you need to develop or eliminate? Explain.