2015-09-21

1Peter 5.2-3 and the motives of pastoral ministry


1Peter 5:2-3 Tend the flock of God that is in your charge, exercising the oversight, not under compulsion but willingly, as God would have you do it—not for sordid gain but eagerly. Do not lord it over those in your charge, but be examples to the flock. 

This short passage gives some really good advice to elders about how to pastor, and when to get out. If you unpack the three coupled concepts in these two verses, they offer a concise roadmap to the essential motives and methods of pastoral leadership. 

1. Compulsion versus Willingness

Are you doing it because you feel compelled to, or because you want to? If you are feeling obligated or coerced to be a pastor, you may need to get out. If you are feeling irreplaceable and indispensable, you may need to get out. If you are feeling like you are the only one who can save them, you may need to get out. If some sense of duty or obligation is the only reason you do it, is that enough?

2. Gain versus Gift. 

Are you doing it for what you can get out of it (gain) or eager to discover what you can give to the flock (gift)? If you are doing it because you need to be needed, and want to feel important, you may need to get out. If you are doing it just for the paycheck or just for the insurance or just to keep a roof over your head, you may need to get out. If you are doing it just because you don't know what else to do, you may need to get out. If the benefits are the only reason you don't or can't leave, is that enough?

3. Lordship versus Example. 

Are you lording it over your flock that you "have to" be their pastor, or are you loving them as a living example of what you want to help them strive for? If you feel you have to order people around, using anger or frustration or threats, you may need to get out. If you resent your flock, or look down on them as deficient or debauched, you may need to get out. If you really need people to respect your authority and know you are in charge, you may need to get out. If you feel like you can only accomplish your role by being a dictator, is that enough?

I could add a great deal of commentary and exegesis to this short mediation, but that might guild the lily of what this passage is after. In pastoral ministry, these questions should become the barometer of not only how we are doing as pastors, but whether it may be time to move or take a break. 
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