Evaluating Leaders - Advice to Pastors - 1 Peter 5:1-4
August 7, 2023, 9:00 AM

1. 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: 2 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; 3 not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. 4 And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.    

An older poll by James Patterson and Peter Kim who reported in their book, The Day America Told the Truth. The respondents were asked to list "The Ten Sleaziest Ways to Make a Living.” The top four were: (1) Drug Dealer, (2) Organized crime Boss, (3) TV Evangelist, (4) Prostitute. If there was ever any doubt about the effect the Jim Bakkers and Jimmy Swaggarts have had on the public, this survey settles the question. They are regarded as worse than a prostitute! This predated the noted apologist, Ravi Zacharias who following his death was discovered to be involved with sexual scandals as is the case with lawsuits against the Roman Catholic churches who protected abusive priests.        

The study found that "religion plays almost no role in shaping most lives." In this day and age, clergy do not have a very good image. Almost weekly there is some Christian minister being fired for some dishonor. What does that do for the cause of Christ?  

How can you tell if someone is a false teacher or not? I am not speaking about a cult that ignores Jesus Christ, I am talking about people claiming to be Christian leaders and teachers.  Within the evangelical circles there are many false teachers.          

Most people will readily admit they don't know the Bible like they should. Many are unable to discern heresy that perverts the central Christian truths from minor differences of interpretations of unclear passages of the Bible.         

Peter tells us how an elder should act. The term elder was carried over into the church from the synagogue where they were the rulers of the synagogue, the custodians of the property and of the copies of the books of the Old Testament which were very expensive. The elders directed the worship and usually designated some visiting rabbi to read and expound the Scriptures.        

Although most Jews knew what it meant, the Gentiles did not use that term as much as the term meaning an overseer or superintendent, which was translated bishop. The terms bishop and elder were used interchangeably of the spiritual leaders. We might call them pastors who are the teaching elders.        

Peter did not come to these pastors as a Pope. He was not giving orders, but exhorting them as a fellow elder. Peter was writing in times of persecution when Christians needed strong spiritual leadership. In the previous message we talked about judgment beginning in the house of God. God will judge Christians and He will especially judge Christian leaders and pastors who yield to popular homilies to make people feel good about themselves. I must ask myself regularly am I sharing to the best of my ability and knowledge from God's Word with application for our day? Because many have abused the office of elder it is important to look at Biblical criteria for judging who is of God.     

Application:  Are you able to properly judge the various religious speakers on television, web broadcasts, videos and radio? Maybe Peter’s words this week will be helpful. 

Prayer:  Lord, teach me to take what I hear to Your Word as my "plumb line" of truth.