A Christian community should be known for its spirit of cooperation not a spirit of competition. Peter in verse 5 puts into place a guideline for the other side of pastoral ministry: the people of the church community. He terms them young men. He then gives the whole community an admonition unto humility and points to God as the rationale.
“5 Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’ 6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:5-7–ESV)
In studying verse 2 it seemed evident that God puts his leaders into fitting positions. Leaders do not start off mature. Leaders do not start of pure. The positions God gives are useful unto the maturity and purification of the leader. The God assigned positions will lead there while serving as God would have them serve. That is from verse 2.
The leader or pastor serves in the church community and in verse 5 the community is given admonition unto their role. They are to let the leader lead, the shepherd shepherd. The “same way” is best understood with the phrase “as God would have it” from verse 2.1 They are to be subject to the leaders. There is a symbiosis here, almost a dance if you will. The moves of one are responded to by the moves of the other. In the church the choreography is God directed.
“Oh Great…now I have to cooperate!”
The tune of this verse is one that I have long held to be fraught with risk. If that seems incongruous let me explain. From God’s perspective the pastor is the church boss. His leadership does not merely function under the church roof, but he guides the church community in their comings and goings as a group. What if I am not comfortable with what he suggests or which activities he assigns (assume here that they are not things against the scriptures or godliness) the church? In some manner I have found myself to fear pastors. I have found myself worried that they will tell the church community that we have to go knocking on doors and handing out fliers. 2 What is wrong with this perspective? It is one where God is forgotten. God places the leader into a position of authority in the church to be matured and to lead others to maturity. The church is God’s structure. The people of God’s structure he can and will protect and refine. What is going to harm me if I am eager to follow the God-chosen pastor?3Will discomfort harm? Not likely.
Humility, anxiety, and a caring God.
Humility is the second half of this verse. While I may fear what the pastor may lead us toward that fear comes because of the instruction to follow, and I am fearful of what he might lead toward. To be subject to the pastor is to follow not fight the pastor and to follow willingly not grudgingly4. In the following one must have humility not pride. We are not to rise up and try to take from the pastor his God given role of leadership. God will oppose that, and it is never good to get into a fight with God.
Humility fosters cooperation. Pride fosters competition. One provides a buffer that builds up the community and the other provides the blades that chop up a community.
Verse 6 points out the advantage of humility. God lifts the humble up. Humility avails, enables, a lifting up. Pride avails a bringing down. It is in this context that verse 7 is placed. Is there anxiety from humility? Is their anxiety from following a pastor? Is their a sense of risk that comes from following the pastor? All of that can safely be placed upon God. Take each fear and uncertainty apply to it the solvent of God’s care and let God dissolve it. There are many other ways this 7th verse is and can be applied, but here it is applied to a situation I have known.
Things to consider from these verses:
- An aura of cooperation.
- Pastors and “pastored” will be matured by serving and living as God would have.
- What if we don’t like the pastor’s agenda?
- Don’t forget God.
- Pray for and function with humility.
- Humility fosters cooperation; Pride fosters competition.
- Pride brings down; humility sets the stage for being lifted up.
- Recall that God is a caring God.
- God makes all things work out for his own, good, purposes.