Welcome to Friday’s podcast. Hope you’ve been able to enjoy the sunshine this week. Possible thundershowers on their way tonight but at least it’s the weekend!
Next week, the wonderful Mr Alan Ward will wrap up our series of reflections on this letter and move onto 2 Peter. Today’s passage is 1 Peter 5: 1-7. We are going to focus on verse 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 favour to the humble.”
One of the things that is constantly being discussed, even more so at the moment, is the decisions and actions of our leaders – both here and, particularly in the US, in light of recent events. As I watched the news last night, following the announcement of some the biggest restriction lifting we’ve seen this lockdown, the UK public survey results were being discussed. Had the Government gone too far? Or was this just about right? Everyone seemed to have an opinion and, of course, they are entitled to it. But regardless of how we view current leaders, we can surely agree that now, more than ever, we need to see good leadership exercised by those who are in a position to do so. As James spoke about last week, believers are to pray for and, as challenging as it is, learn how to submit to those in authority.
But in today’s passage though, the focus is specifically on those who are leaders, ‘elders’ in the church, those entrusted with exercising oversight over their flock. Leadership in any sphere of life is a high calling but the description of what godly leadership looks like, as presented by Peter in this passage, sets the bar very high indeed. As one of Jesus’ closest disciples, a witness to his sufferings and the one appointed over the church, what he writes here carries great authority.
So what does godly leadership look like? Well, Peter tells us in this passage that those appointed as leaders in the church are to lead willingly, work eagerly on the behalf of others and set an example to their people – not lording their authority over them but serving them faithfully in love. And what an example we have here at STC in Mick and Tricia Woodhead. Speaking personally, but I know also representing the collective voice of the church, we are so immensely grateful for their incredible leadership. Their passion, conviction and above all total faithfulness to seeing this church continually grow disciples and pioneer new ground for the kingdom are clear for all to see. God has worked so powerfully through this wonderful couple over their 20 years here – of which Jo and I have been around for half of that time. Having been part of the team for a number of years now I can speak to how inspiring and humbling it has been to witness how fully they give of themselves to this calling – knowing that we, in our own way, are to learn to do the same. I hope they forgive me for taking a moment to speak of them publically in this way through the podcast. We love you Mick and Tricia!
In our focus verse for today, Peter addresses how people within the church are to relate to their leaders and to each other – specifically the young. Why? Was there a particular issue with this age group in the church? We don’t know for sure but what we do know is that as we grow so too does our desire for independence and self sufficiency. Our individualistic and consumerist society only seeks to encourage this but in many ways this desire for independence is part of our intrinsic nature to look to break free from our parents and establish a life for ourselves. It’s a natural part of our development and yet….what true Godly leadership shows us is that the more mature we become in our faith, the more we develop a sense in how dependent we are upon our heavenly Father.
This is what Christ- like leadership, that which Peter speaks of here in this passage, demonstrates to us. Because to lead in this way requires massive self sacrifice, being constantly willing to put the needs of others before your own through pouring out your own life, skills, experiences and resources into others. It is a way of living that is only possible through Jesus – the ultimate example of servant leadership, the one who surrendered it all for us on the cross. And as we in turn see this demonstrated to us by those in leadership positions within the church, our call is to learn to submit, to sit at their feet and to learn the ways of Jesus.
In these challenging days, godly leadership is so vital and let us thank God that we have that in Mick and Tricia here at STC. If you are part of another church listening to this podcast – thank God for your leaders too. And regardless of whether we are young or old, new to faith or people who have walked with Jesus for many years, let us ‘clothe ourselves with humility’. Let us seek to follow in the footsteps of our spiritual leaders in pouring out our lives, investing ourselves in our relationships with one another. And all the while may we honour, encourage and pray for our amazing leaders both now and in the future – not just for who they are but for who they are helping us to become.
God, thank you for Mick and Tricia. We honour them this day Lord and all those who have spiritual authority over us. We thank you for the example that they are to us and we pray that as we follow them we may discover what it means to ‘walk humbly’ with our God and alongside others. Amen.
BIBLE READING: 1 Peter 5:1-7 (NIV)
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: 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; 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.
In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility towards one another, because,
‘God opposes the proud
but shows favour to the humble.’
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.