1. “Not Under compulsion, but voluntarily according to the will of God …” (1 Peter 5:2a)
In John 21:15-17, the resurrected Yeshua commands Peter three times: “Tend my lambs … shepherd my sheep … tend my sheep.” Peter was a bold, strong man destined to be a great leader of God’s people. In his own strength, he could have accepted these commands from Yeshua, as “under compulsion”. But Yeshua knew that neither Peter, nor anyone else, can lead like Yeshua leads “according to the will of God” – under his own strength (I Peter 5:2). He may start strong, but he will ultimately fail. This is why, in John 21, before each command, Yeshua asks Peter the rhetorical question, “Peter, do you love me?“
So it is with each of us who lead: if we are listening, the Holy Spirit is constantly asking us the same question: “are you doing this because you have to or because you love God?“
I can almost hear God saying, “If you love me and draw near to Me, then you can lead with my heart, my love, my wisdom … and if not … well, good luck!”
2. “Not for sordid gain, but with eagerness …” (1 Peter 5:2b)
We all need to make a living. We all need money for family, food, clothing, maybe a car, etc. There’s nothing wrong with ministry leaders being paid for their work. Just as in any workplace, those with more authority and responsibility also deserve higher pay. But to be true leaders in His image, the desire/need for money (and more money!) must never be the source of our motivation. In 1 Corinthians 9, the Apostle Paul testifies: “For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!“
All of us in ministry leadership must have this attitude: “I am doing this because God has called me. He has gifted me, and it is His will in me. Woe to me if I don’t do it! It doesn’t matter if I get paid or how much … this is not just any job!” And the same is true for all of us, whether as parents or leaders in the secular workplace, we must know that all authority is a gift from God (Romans 13:1) and our work is something we should be eager to do for His glory – not for money or for status!
3. “Not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.” (1 Peter 5:3)
Before I became a parent, I took a parenting class taught by a local pastoral couple here in Jerusalem. Seven years later, I still remember one of their statements very clearly: “Your kids will do what you do, not what you tell them to do!” This is one of the simplest and most universal of all leadership principles – lead by example. By virtue of power and authority many have succeeded in ruling by “dictating” (being a dictator!) over others. But their reign and influence is usually short-lived (as soon as the dictatorial leader dies, the whole thing falls apart). But when we rule from “below”, not “above”, by the example of obedience and holiness in our lives, then we can produce lasting fruit in others that can continue to influence the generations after we are gone. In 1 Corinthians 4:9ff, Paul describes apostles as those “at the end of the procession“, not famous and prominent, standing at the front of the parade, but nameless, as those condemned to death, weak and without honor. The greatest leaders are often unknown, quietly leading many by their humble example. Yeshua said, “Learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; My yoke is easy, and My load is light” (Matthew 11:29-30).