3 principles of Biblical leadership from 1 Peter 5


#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 3 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 not Peter, and not anyone else, can lead like He leads “according to the will of God” under his own strength.  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?”  “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 church 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 1st 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 church leadership must have this attitude: “I am doing this because God has called me, he has gifted me, 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 bosses—we must know that all authority is a gift from God (Rom 13:1) and is something we should be eager to do for His glory—not for money or for status!

#3 Not as Lording it over…but as 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. 7 years later, there is one thing I remember 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 to rule 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 First 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, without honor, etc. 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.” (Mt 11:29-30)

This article originally appeared on Revive Israel, January 18, 2018, and reposted with permission.