Shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory (1 Peter 5:2-4 ESV).
This was written to the elders in the church at Ephesus, but the “elders” here means “olders,” not specifically the ordained elders. Many “olders” are in a church body—those older than brand-new Christians. They are believers who have been walking with Jesus as their Lord and can show, by example, how to honor Christ daily.
As I listened to the pastor reference this scripture, the resounding question in my mind was, “Who are MY flocks among us?” As followers of Christ, we are entrusted with those He sovereignly places in our lives, and our greatest witness of Him is the example of our lives as we live to serve and please Him.
Surprisingly soon after coming to a saving understanding of Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, people around you will be positioned by the Holy Spirit to observe and learn from your life about how to walk with the God who created them. They may be little people—3,4,5-year-old children or grandchildren entrusted to you by the Lord. How do we speak to such young audiences? They quickly recognize love, comfort, & peace as readily as harshness, fear, and instability. Do our words edify, comfort, and strengthen?
The workplace is another likely flock among you. Sometimes this flock is a conglomeration of rough and tumble, worldly, not-so-easy-to-love, stubborn, contentious people. Christ died for them, and you are in their lives for a reason. This flock often requires much finesse and handling with kid gloves, but a steady, consistent, dependable good work ethic and kindness shine a very bright light into their darkness. The hope that is in you draws others like a magnet. But in your hearts, revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15 NIV).
Perhaps you attend a home group or Bible study. There, too, a flock among you grazes, waiting as they watch your life and interest in the things of the Lord. Are you a listener or an emoter? Do you have others’ interests at heart, or is Bible study just a place to meet your personal needs? These are tough questions, but our private flocks, entrusted to us by the Lord, are looking for Jesus in us. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves, Paul wrote in Romans 12:10 (NIV).
As I write this, I think of several flocks the Lord has entrusted to me. Some are family, some friends, some Bible study groups, and some are healthcare workers I’ve known over the years who keep pasturing near me and always have questions, comments, or prayer requests during my medical appointments. I don’t take that lightly—I’m honored to be included in their lives!
When we shepherd the flocks among us, the Lord gives us unique insight, counsel, and wisdom to help them model Christ and grow in their relationship with Him. You and I will rarely have the same flocks, and why should we? A flock of sheep only has one shepherd, and remarkably, they only respond to his voice and direction. Shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you (1 Peter 5:2). As “older” Christians, we have a responsibility to point our flocks to Christ, the Chief Shepherd, and teach them by example how to learn about Him, hear His voice, and understand His ways.
Jesus said, in John 10:27 (ESV), “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” There is no greater honor than teaching others to know, love, and serve Jesus. Who makes up the flock among you? Pray for each person in your flock, whether two months or ninety years old. As you lead, guide, and shepherd them, the Lord watches, and when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory (1 Peter 5:4).
© 2023, Chris Werre