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1 Peter 5:2

ESV shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly;
NIV 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;
NASB shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not with greed but with eagerness;
CSB Shepherd God's flock among you, not overseeing out of compulsion but willingly, as God would have you; not out of greed for money but eagerly;
NLT Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly — not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God.
KJV Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;

What does 1 Peter 5:2 mean?

In John's Gospel, in chapter 21, there is a significant and heartbreaking moment between Jesus and Peter. This occurred after Christ's resurrection from the dead. Prior to Jesus' crucifixion, Peter had denied Him three times, much to his own shame (Mark 14:72). As related by John, Jesus asked three times if Peter loved Him. Each time, Peter affirmed that he loved Jesus, grieved at the repeated question. Also each time, Jesus responded to Peter's answer with a command to feed or tend Jesus' sheep. Shepherding the flock of God was to be Peter's life work. This moment not only mirrored Peter's three-fold denial, it showed how Christ had accepted Him as an apostle.

Here, in these verses, Peter is sharing that mission with the elders of the local churches who will receive this letter. His commands reveal how and why an elder should provide leadership in the church.

The first thing an elder should realize is that the community of believers belongs to God, not its human leaders. An elder does not own the flock—God does. And so, the elder provides leadership to a people owned and loved by the Father.

Second, the elder's role is one of supervision. The Greek word here is episkopountes, which literally means to "take oversight," or "to look diligently after." In other words, the role of an elder is very much to be an "overseer," one who watches over and tends to the needs of the congregation. It's a role requiring awareness of what's going on in the lives of the believers, with an eye to helping and guiding them.

Third, nobody should take on this role to fulfill the expectations of others. God requires an elder to want to be an elder, of his own free will. A person forced into spiritual leadership cannot truly serve as God intended.

Finally, an elder must be eager to serve for the sake of that mission alone. These men cannot be motivated by money, power, or control. This is to prevent church leaders from being prone to dishonest schemes such as embezzlement or manipulation.
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