Shepherds of the Flock – 1 Peter 5:1-5

Kendalia Community Church

Oct 16, 2016

 

Intro – Thank you all for having me at your business meeting two weeks ago.  I appreciate y’alls hospitality and being included in such an important time as this – the fact that y’all are relational says wonders about how the Holy Spirit is in y’all and in this place.

Prayer

Shepherd of the Flock:

          As I was there during your business meeting, after a delicious pot-luck lunch, I couldn’t help overhearing about your search and your questions about a pastor, and the process you all were considering in choosing one.  I hope it is not presumptuous of me, but I thought some words from the Good Book on how to choose a pastor would be good fodder for your consideration, prayer, and the process from this point on.

There is lots of Scripture in the Bible about pastors, especially in the New Testament letters.  Paul and John talk about it, but Peter is where today’s Scripture – 1 Peter 5:1-5 – comes from.  In it, Peter talks about the character or views of a Shepherd of the Flock. 

As I read it, John Wooden came to my mind.

Illustration – John Wooden

            I am sure that if I mention the name John Wooden, some of y’all will know who I am talking about.  John Wooden was born in 1910 in the state of Indiana to parents that had six children – four boys and two girls - but the two sisters died, one in infancy and the other by the young age of two.  He lived with his parents on a farm, and moved three times during his childhood.  Being from Indiana – famous for basketball – he had a role model in one of the Franklin Wonder Five, a high school basketball team the dominated Indiana HS basketball from 1919 to 1922.   

            He learned well.  In High School, he was a three-time All-State selection, and led his basketball team to the state title in 1927.  He went on to Purdue, was named All-Big Ten and All-Midwestern from 1930 – 1932, and was the first player ever to be named a three-time consensus All-American.  His senior year, the Purdue Boilermakers were named the pre-NCAA Tournament Champion by two polls, and he was nicknamed “The Indiana Rubber Man” for his suicidal dives on the court.  By the way, he graduated with the degree in English, and was a member of the Beta Theta Phi fraternity and the Alpha Phi Omega fraternity.

          He played professionally for several years (while teaching and coaching high school), made 134 consecutive free throws during one 46 game stretch, and was named to the NBL’s (that National Basketball League) First team for the 1937-38 season.

Did I forget to tell you that he served in World War II in the US Navy, and left the Navy as a Lieutenant?  I am in awe of his accomplishments!

Coaching in the college ranks is where probably some of you heard of him.  He started at Indiana State, but most of his time was at UCLA, where he was head coach from 1948 – 1975.  He won an amazing 620 games in 27 seasons and 10 NCAA titles during his last 12 seasons.  The UCLA Bruins, under Coach Wooden, won a then-record streak of 88 games and four perfect 30-0 seasons.

         All that, and he never made more than $35,000 per year, and he never asked for a raise.  He is and was named to all kind of post-season honors - including NCAA Coach of the Year 7 times - and there are more John T. Wooden awards across the country than I can count.[1] 

The kind of character that John Wooden had is what I want to focus on.  The character that was built by his Dad and strengthened by a relationship that he had with Jesus Christ.  Hear Coach Wooden tell it:  “When I graduated from our little three-room grade school in Centerton, Indiana, I got dressed up in clean overalls for the big event. My dad gave me something that day that would shape my entire life: my work, my marriage, my goals, my philosophy. It was a card on which he had written a few guidelines. I still carry it with me. On one side of the card, Dad had written out his creed. At the top of the paper, it said “Seven Things to Do.”

1. Be true to yourself.
2. Help others.
3. Make each day your masterpiece.
4. Drink deeply from good books, especially the Bible.
5. Make friendship a fine art.
6. Build a shelter against a rainy day.
7. Pray for guidance and give thanks for your blessings every day.[2]

            Coach Wooden also said "I have always tried to make it clear that basketball is not the ultimate. It is of small importance in comparison to the total life we live. There is only one kind of life that truly wins, and that is the one that places faith in the hands of the Savior."[3]

You see, what drove Coach Wooden to be the best that he could be and make a difference in the lives of his family, students, coaches, fans, and the media was the foundation of Jesus Christ.

            The Bible talks about what character a pastor should have; what that person’s attitude should be; what that person’s view should be.  Before we turn to 1 Peter 5:1-5, let me tell you a little about Peter and set the stage.

Peter:

            Can I tell you that Peter was a mess?  He was originally named Simon, which means “hearer,” but Jesus Christ gave him a new name, Peter, which means “rock or stone.”  He was a fisherman, and partners with his brother Andrew and James and John, the sons of Zebedee.  They were all disciples of John the Baptist, and came to Jesus with a call to “follow me.”  Peter was probably about thirty or forty years of age when Jesus called him from being a fisherman to being “fishers of men.”

          Peter was one of the four intra-disciples, and was mainly first to act, tell, or be heard.  This was sometimes a good thing and sometimes a bad thing.  Remember the Lord saying to Peter after Peter criticized Jesus for saying he would suffer and die "Get thee behind me, Satan; thou art an offence unto me, for thou savorest not the things that be of God but those that be of men," or on the night Jesus was betrayed denying him three times before the rooster crowed?   Yet he also saw, through the Holy Spirit, that Jesus was the Son of God and, after Peter had been forgiven by Jesus at the Sea of Galilee, preached mightily to the people of Jerusalem after the Holy Spirit came down at Pentecost.

The establishment of a church (mostly of Gentile origin) in Antioch and the placement of church in Palestine were part of Peter’s ministry, as well as a church in Rome (by church tradition) that you may know about.  The Roman Catholics think he was the first Pope.  Church tradition also hold that he was crucified, after being imprisoned, and requested that he be placed upside down, because of deference to his Lord Jesus Christ (who was right-side up when crucified).  He died about A.D. 68.

        The Gospel of Mark was reportedly from Peter’s perspective, but the only written documentation that we have written by Peter is 1 Peter and 2 Peter.  We go to 1 Peter for the Scripture today.

1 Peter:

            1 Peter is one of the general letters in the New Testament.  It is not written by Paul, who authored much of the New Testament, and is written not to a particular church but to a group of churches; hence it is called “general.”  Since the time it was written believers have clung to Peter’s words, especially when faced with a society that a secular and is not hearing the Word of God.  It seems that we Christians are beginning to feel like aliens even in America!  But if that is the case, the harvest is deep now!

            It is written to the churches in Asia Minor (modern day Turkey) and has some themes that are similar to Romans and Ephesians.  One of the issues the Peter addresses is important to us today, because he is talking about the church and how it is to be formed.  I want today for us to listen to how he thinks a pastor ought to see the world and relate to it.

            Let’s go to 1 Peter 5:1-5.

1 Peter 5:1-5 New International Version (NIV)

To the Elders and the Flock

5 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: 2 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; 3 not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. 4 And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.

5 In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because,

“God opposes the proud
    but shows favor to the humble.”[a]

Footnotes:

1 Peter 5:5 Prov. 3:34

The Word of the Lord.  Thanks be to God.

Exegesis:

5:1      Peter first notes that he himself is an elder (or pastor) and has been a part of Jesus’ church, and writes to fellow elders (or pastors).  The Greek term is “presbyters,” which we commonly translate into English as “elders” or “pastors.”  Peter is claiming apostolic authority as well, which gives the letter strength.

5:2      The “shepherding” was a common term for the pastoring responsibilities back in the 1st century A.D. and, frankly, up to the present day.  God is the ultimate shepherd, and we do it as stewards.  The “shepherd” is not a light term, and denotes the authority to guide and rule, and promote sound teaching.  In John 21:15-19, you may remember the Risen Jesus instructs Peter to be the shepherd of Christ’s flock, and here part of Peter’s instructions to his flock.

            This is written to particular churches which make up the one big – or catholic – church.  A pastor has responsibility for his congregation, but because he or she is willing, i.e. the servant’s heart.  It is because of the congregation that a pastor serves, not personal or financial gain. 

5:3      Again, this is talking about a style of leadership that points to the heart.  A Pastor should not “lord” it over his parishioners, but be an example to the flock.  Like the Gospel of Mark (written some say from the words of Peter) says in 10:42-43 (I’m paraphrasing), “whoever wants to be great in the kingdom of God will be a servant, and whoever wishes to be first must be slave to all.”  Lead by example:  your actions makes your words true!

5:4      When Christ comes again, you will get your reward.  Other than that, your reward is blessing the people and thus doing God’s work in His Kingdom.

5:5      Here, Peter talks to the rest of the congregation.  There are really only two people, called “elders” and “younger.”  Here, he is talking to the members, saying that they should listen to the pastors, at least when the word comes to them from God. 

            And then “all,” that everyone, be humble with each other.  It seems that people in this world are irritating at times, and can rub you the wrong way.  Churches are no different, but we have the Holy Spirit in us and are trying to do the mission of God.  Remember the Shepherd and his flock:  it works well when they work together!

Illustration – Oseola McCarty

            This next example is a bit more recluse than John Wooden, though no less impacting.  Oseola McCarty was an African-American woman from Mississippi.  She was born in 1908 in the Deep South.  She dropped out of school in the sixth grade to help care for a sick member of her family, and helped her mother with the laundry.  She began her own laundry business in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, for a mite 50 cents a load, and lived her life.  She care for her grandmother, aunt, and mother over her life – and saved.  She lived humbly and miserly.  In fact she only traveled outside Mississippi once!  What she did do was read her Bible every day, kneeled each night to pray to the Father, and attended Friendship Baptist Church.  

            When she was eighty-six years old, the banker sat down with her and wanted to know where she wanted the money in her saving account to go when she died.  To her astonishment, Ms. McCarty had $250,000 dollars in her saving account!

            Than she did something that rocked the American world.  Instead of going on a cruise, or going outside of Mississippi for the second time in her life – somewhere!  Instead of buying that new dress she’d seen, or the new car she had always wanted, or a new house – she decided to give the money to help other African-Americans to get an education – something that she hadn’t gotten.  In 1995, she gave quietly $150,000 to a scholarship fund at the University of Southern Mississippi, not asking for anything in return. 

            When word got out that she had done this, the people of the United States were amazed at this woman’s heart and wanted to meet the modern-day saint.  She was quiet, unassuming, Bible-believing, and gave so that other people could receive the blessing. 

            That is the kind of character I’m talking about!

Disciples Fleeing Jerusalem:

            It seems, though, that maybe there is a voice in your head that says maybe this church cannot bring a pastor.  Maybe this church cannot afford a pastor.  Maybe this church cannot ___________ and you fill in the blank.  Let me say that maybe that is not God speaking to you!  God can fill this church or not fill it, you just have to believe and act.

            In the New Testament, things did not go as the world planned, either.  When Jesus ascended, amazing things started happening in Jerusalem – the Disciple were filled with the Holy Spirit at Pentecost; Peter proclaimed the Gospel and thousands of people were saved; Peter (in the name of Christ) healed a man who was lame from birth; the church started; the deacons were formed; and Stephen, one of the deacons, did great wonders and signs amongst the people, and he spoke to people and then to the Sanhedrin with the wisdom of the Spirit.  This happened, but the result was the Stephen was stoned and the disciples were scattered, away from Jerusalem. 

            What?  If this was from God, why did this happen?  And what did it mean?  At least, that is what I’m thinking and saying.  But thank God He’s got the bigger plan and bigger picture.  God knew that the church would spread if the Disciples left Jerusalem, even though they were running for their lives!  Acts 8:4 says it all: 

            Acts 8:4 New International Version (NIV)

Philip in Samaria

4 Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went.

            You see, God had a plan, and He has a plan for this place.  This place, started by two sisters who had a heart for ministry in 1977, and leased this place from the people that owned it.  It became a house of God.  Some of you know the story better than I do, but what started in 1886 here, in this place, is alive and well because people believed, and the Lord was here with you, and will be with you till we all go home to heaven!

Shepherd of the Flock:

            So it seems to me that you want as a pastor a person of character:  to be as much like Jesus as he or she can be, with humility to admit that they’re a sinner like you folks.  You want someone who will be a servant, who wants what’s best for this congregation and Kendalia Community Church because you want it, or God’s wants it, not what’s best for the pastor or his or her family.

            You want someone who will take John Wooden’s Dad’s seven things and live them.  You want a person with Ms. McCarty’s meek and service spirit.

            You want a shepherd to tend this flock of believers.  Not for money, or fame, or notoriety, but because this is God’s place; he or she is called to preach the Word, spread the Gospel in truth and love, and minister to you and this community.

            The process of how you do it can look a number of ways, and I can talk to you individually off-line about ways that I have seen it done (in my short time in the ministry).  But it can be done, with God at the forefront. 

            Like the disciples leaving Jerusalem, if you pray, leave God to do the heavy lifting, and do what you can do and surrender the rest to God, you will get an answer to the question, and most likely a pastor to lead this church.  May it be so, God willing?

Bring it to the Congregation:

            This is an awesome time to be here, in this place, with the exciting things that God has in store for you.  You are preparing, for what I don’t know, but God does.  You each bring a piece of the puzzle of God’s kingdom to fit in the church. 

            Don’t think that you are too weak, too aged, too poor, challenged physically, too young, not gifted with words, not knowing the Bible enough to proclaim God’s Word.  That is not the case as I look at you.  Look at Peter, look at the disciples, look around you.  We are the body of Christ, no more, no less.  Sinners, broken, but made whole by Jesus.

            A pastor is out there, with God’s fingerprint on him or her.  You only have to go through the process and let God do all the rest!

            This is the body!  This is part of God’s kingdom in our midst!  This is us, piecing it together in this broken world, and have peace and hope through it!  Amen! 

Let us pray.

Prayer:

 

[1] Wikipedia, “John Wooden,” accessed October 14, 2016, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Wooden.

 

[2] Beyond the Ultimate, “John Wood,” accessed October 14, 2016, http://www.beyondtheultimate.org/athletes/John-Wooden.aspx.

 

[3] Wikipedia.

I preached Shepherd of the Flock (1 Peter 5:1-5) on October 16, 2016 at Kendalia Community Church

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