The final chapter of First Peter is directed to pastors. Peter was an apostle, meaning that he had physically walked and talked with Jesus. As one of Jesus’s inner circle of disciples and one of His closest friends on earth, Peter had seen and done some amazing things. He was on the Mount of Transfiguration (see Matthew 17:1-8), he was an eyewitness to the death of Jesus, he actually went into the empty tomb on the day of Jesus’s resurrection (see John 20:6), and he saw Jesus ascend into heaven. Needless to say, Peter had the authority to tell pastors what to do (I would listen to him!). But when he addressed pastors in this chapter he was not heavy-handed with that authority. He spoke humbly, referring to himself as “a fellow elder” (v.1), talking pastor-to-pastor. (Note: the humility Peter exhibits here and talks about in verses 5-7 did not come naturally to him, and neither does it come naturally to most pastors and church members. Peter had to be humbled by Jesus and to learn humility from Jesus, and so must we.)
Peter encouraged pastors to think of themselves as shepherds of “the flock of God” (v.2). Shepherds feed, love, and care for their sheep, and pastors must do likewise. A wise pastor-shepherd does not lead by force, but by example (v.3). The Spirit-inspired metaphor is that of a shepherd leading the flock with the Word, not of a cowboy driving the flock with a bullwhip. The goal of every pastor is to learn how to love his sheep like the “Chief Shepherd”, the Lord Jesus (v.4). I strive to learn from Jesus how to balance care and leadership. That balance is not easily achieved, and I have much to learn.
A good shepherd is vigilant, always on the lookout for predators (v.8). Common threats to a church-flock include false teachers and their confusing doctrines, divisive people, and immoral members — but behind them all is our “adversary”, Satan. He is like a roaring lion, hungry to devour the sheep. He preys on the lonely, the weak, and the vulnerable. He tempts and lies and confuses. He finds twisted satisfaction in wrecking testimonies and dividing friends. We don’t have to give in to Satan’s temptations or give up when he attacks because he has no authority over us. We are under the dominion of Jesus (v.11) and when we stand firm in our faith in Him we can resist Satan’s attacks (v.9).
If Satan has been harassing you, know that you are not alone (v.9). And be assured that your suffering won’t last forever, just “a little while” (v.10). God has grace to see you though your suffering, and Jesus, the “Shepherd and Overseer of your soul” (see 2:25), knows how to restore your strength when you are weak (v.10). You can stand firm in His grace today (v.12).