“To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ’s sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers–not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.” (Reference: 1 Peter 5:1-4 )
I think historic Anabaptist Pilgram Marpeck has the loving same appreciation for Peter (or at least the writer of 1 Peter) that I do. He (Marpeck) writes to the churches in Moravia, “In this body the gifts of the Holy Spirit are manifest in each member according to the measure of faith in Jesus Christ for service in the growth of the body of Christ. By this service the weakest, least, and smallest members are strengthened, comforted, led, guided, and pastured by the strong, leading, and most able members. Thus they are trained, preserved, increased, and nourished until they reach the full maturity of Christ. For whoever would be the greatest must be the vassal and servant and not the ruler of all the others, says the Lord [Matt. 20:26, Luke 22:45-47; Mark 10:20, 21]. Their service is not compelled or forced not for the sake of shameful gain; rather it flows voluntarily from an affectionate disposition [1 Pet. 5:2]. They do not rule over the heritage of God but become an example to the flock, says Peter. For it is certain that the highest good treasure, which is the Son of the Father, was not (in this time) sent to rule in order that He should be served, but rather, that He voluntarily presented Himself to us all to serve our salvation, and never desired that He should be served. In this the Lord is a true example for all who are His disciples and servants. “
I would, beloved, commend to you as I did yesterday that anyone can find themselves in the position of being an elder in what ever they do. Not just in a church setting but anywhere that you find yourself looking out for the welfare and having accountability for another one. On the job or just out in society – as a mentor, supervisor, or employer -many people are looked towards for leadership and guidance. This can be a ministerial calling; or it can be an opportunity to use and abuse people. For if there is the opportunity to use and abuse, there is also the opportunity to be an “elder” to another. It depends, beloved, on your own nature and inclinations. The writer of 1 Peter and Marpeck have set the standard. Will you follow it? It is my hope and prayer that you do so. Selah!