1 Peter 5:2-3
Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willing, not for filthy lucre, but of ready mind; neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being examples to the flock.1 Peter 5:2,3
The church, the body of baptized believers, belongs to and is directed by God. God’s leaders, pastors, elders, ministers, etc., are accountable to God as to how they discharge their office. It must be clearly understood that God’s people do not belong to a person, church or an organization. To cross this fine line of demarcation (personal ownership) is to tread on an area that God did not intend. When a person or group of people are viewed as belonging to or controlled by someone, the spirit of manipulation is at work.
Manipulation in this sense is defined as shrewd or devious tactics to promote one’s own advantage. When this spirit prevails, God’s mandate for His people is not being promulgated, but rather a personal agenda fueled by a dominating spirit with an insatiable appetite for control resulting in a false perception of who they are or what they were called to do in the body of Christ. This demonic activity, with Satan at its root, is manifested by interference into personal relationships and personal business, counseling according to their own personal likes and dislikes, a need to know where people are and what they are doing, with little or no relevance to the church. Yes, wanting to help and wanting to be a blessing to someone is the smoke screen, but when the scenario is played out a tight and binding web of manipulation has been weaved. Unfortunately, this happens all too often to weak and infirmed Christians, causing strife and confusion among the saints.
God has given a clear, definitive clarion call to His people. “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27). The Spirit of God transforms the lives of His people and instills dependence upon God and not an individual. The work of salvation, justification, sanctification, and the baptism of the Holy Ghost, empowers an individual to live holy. To be empowered means authorized to act on the behalf of another. The saints of God have been commissioned by God to represent His character and attributes before a godless, unprincipled and unconscionable generation. “That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:15). Thus, God’s people are able to stand upon their own, self-sufficient to conduct their lives according to the Word of God. Should a problem arise, empowered people, fast and pray seeking the face of God or the voice of wise counsel, not seeking to know the latest tidbit of juicy gossip for their own advantage, but rather sound doctrine to encourage and strengthen. Godly people recognize, and steer clear of individuals with monumental egos bent on “shameless self-promotion.”
Empowerment by God is an infectious tangible element. The sanction of the Holy Ghost spreads from person to person, leaving an example desired to be followed and duplicated. Godly characteristics manifested will have a positive influence on the personality and temperament of others. The unsaved and ungodly are drawn to the cross. “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me” (John 12:32). Love, the gift that should be earnestly coveted, will permeate throughout the house of God. Ultimately, God is glorified and the Spirit is free to operate as it desires within the church.
God has given a direct command to the leaders of His church. “Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willing, not for filthy lucre, but of ready mind; neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being examples to the flock” (1 Peter 5:23). God has entrusted His church to those in charge and will hold them accountable to execute their offices just as He would. The words of Christ ring just as true today as when He spoke to His disciples “go ye therefore, and teach all nations, …teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” (Matthew 28:19,20).