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: 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; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.1 Peter 5:1-4 NIV
In these few verses, Peter gives a brief word of instruction and encouragement to the elders within the church. Elder can refer to an older person as well as to a formal position. An elder is a mature believer respected by other believers and looked to for advice and guidance. Some elders serve informally, while others have been appointed to provide more formal leadership. But regardless, the instruction Peter gives here is appropriate for all elders.
Being A Shepherd
Peter calls on elders to be shepherds to the flock under their care. A shepherd who loves those under their care and serves willingly and eagerly. A shepherd who is serving under Jesus, the Chief Shepherd. Your flock may be large and formally defined. Or it may be small and informal. Your flock includes all those who look up to you and whose lives you influence one way or another. Strive to be a positive influence for them, being an example to them both in words and in your actions.
As Peter says, there is a reward for faithful service as an elder. The crown of glory is given to all those who have been faithful to God’s calling in their life, not just to elders. But your faithfulness to be a positive influence in the lives of other believers will not be forgotten and will be richly rewarded by the Chief Shepherd you serve under.