So have you ever suffered? I don't mean like the internet goes out when you're watching streaming the last episode of Gilmore Girls. I mean, like actually really suffering. Like there's, there's some kind of pain in your body. There, there's a health issue or maybe your mind is completely anxious and stressed out over something that's happening with money or maybe your, your spirit just feels crushed because you've lost someone that you loved. I was thinking about our graduates thankfully, they, they're at the age where many graduates have not really experienced a lot of suffering, but regardless of how old we are, what age we are suffering is part of life. If we haven't experienced true suffering, we will experience it at some point. Suffering is just something that's part of life. And is there anything that, that helps with suffering? Is there anything that, that we can kind of do anything that that can happen to help us with suffering? Well, there's actually lots of ways to help with suffering. There's, there's all kind of things that can help with suffering and there's, there's one particular thing though that probably rarely crosses our minds when it comes to suffering. Just one unique thing that really has the ability to, to really move us and help us when we are suffering. We continue our series together For Good, where we're looking at the values of a healthy local church. And the reason we're doing that is because the world is, is full of bad and we want to be together for good or what kind of good. Well, the kind of good that helps with suffering, the kind of good that, that brings a unique approach to the suffering that we have. Our sermon today is together for servant leadership. We'll be looking in first Peter chapter five verses one through four and in chapters one through four, Peter's been writing to people who were suffering, they, they were suffering for their faith in Christ, but they were, they were suffering and he's trying to encourage them. He's, he's trying to help them and, and then in chapter five, at the very beginning, he's going to help them and encourage them with that. One thing that we don't always think about that is super helpful when it comes to suffering. And what is that one thing? Let's see if we can find out first Peter chapter five, beginning with verse one, Peter writes. Therefore, I urge elders among you. Now, right before this, Peter was writing about how God's judgment begins with the church, not the people outside the church. Now, if we're honest, we don't always think and talk that way. We, we think and talk far too often. Oh, well, you know, it's, it's those people outside the church, you know, those, those ungodly people outside the church, that's often where our mind runs. We begin to think outside and we forget that God is going to deal with the people inside that already know Him. The people who are already in a relationship with Him and Peter with that in mind, he, he brings this challenge to the elders of the church. Well, who are the elders of the church? Well, if you many times we hear the word elders, we just think of, of people who are older, but that's, that's not really the description that we see in the Bible. If you look at different denominations, there's all kind of definitions of, of what an elder is. But if we kind of just keep it simply to the scripture and an elder in the church is someone who's primarily responsible for the doctrine and the teaching and the preaching and the overall spiritual leadership of the church, they're responsible for the spiritual health of the church. Now, technically looking at the scriptures, I'm, I'm kind of the only elder, you know, at our church and, and I don't, I don't really like being alone. So uh so I've been praying that God would raise up uh some, some other elders, some that would a few faithful men who can come alongside me and, and really help us to, to shore up the doctrine and the teaching and the preaching and the, the spiritual health of the church. A number of us have, have grown up in the Southern Baptist world and the Southern Baptist world. Sometimes the, the elders and deacons are interchangeable, but that's really not how the scripture teaches that the elders are distinct and the, the deacons are distinct. And then, then you bring the church staff into the conversation and all of a sudden among the elders and the deacons and the church staff, you, you have some shared responsibility and that's not bad, that's not wrong, but it, it takes a little coordination. So, so what's best in trying to, to sort through all that? Well, that's a whole another sermon, right? And, and so we won't be doing that today. But for our purposes today, let's just note that Peter is ending a conversation about judgment, beginning with believers, beginning with Christians. And he follows that up with this very clear picture of accountability toward the elders, toward the leaders of the church. And that makes sense, right? I mean, if we're talking about, you know, judgment, if we're talking about God's accountability, the buck would stop with the spiritual leaders. God's God's not going to start with brand new Christians in the church and say, hey, I'm holding you accountable for the health of the church and he's not going to start with the, with the building grounds chairman. So, you know, Robbie, you're safe. It's ok for now. Um He, he's, he's going to start with the spiritual leaders of the church. That's where God begins. And so you might be thinking, well, hey, this is, this is starting to sound like a sermon, you know, just for pastors, you know, and church leaders and, and so if you're not, then then you can leave and, and go ahead and go to the buffet, everything's fine. No, not really there. There's so much here that all of us can gain from. There's so much that, that we can see from these simple words from Peter, mostly this, that we are all leaders. Every single one of us, we're, we're a leader in some way, shape or form. You may lead people in your family, you may lead people at school, you may lead people at work, you may lead people on a, on a team somewhere or you may just lead yourself. But every single one of us, we're, we're leaders and how we lead it. It matters, especially if you profess to be a Christian. So if you profess to be a Christian, how are you leading yourself right now? How are you doing with you? Are you preaching the gospel to yourself? Are you helping your heart and mind? See and know these amazing things about Jesus Christ? And are you taking that truth of the gospel that you're preaching to yourself? And is it flowing out into the lives of other people. How are you leading others? How are you helping others? And you may be thinking, well, I I'm not a leader, I'm not in charge of anything. I promise you're leading people. You, you are influencing people. So are you leading them to consider that Jesus Christ is the greatest and highest treasure in the universe? And is Jesus your greatest and highest treasure? If he is, then what is happening is, is you treasure Jesus, then you are helping people see and know and find the treasure of Jesus. If you are treasuring Jesus, you are leading others. And if you're treasuring Jesus, you're leading others. Well, this week, uh on Monday, my, my dad went to be with Jesus and, and on Thursday afternoon, we were at the funeral home for the viewing and it came that, that moment where, you know, as, as the, the only boy and, and the youngest and, and the pastor, I'm like, ok, we've been here for a little while, you know, it's time for me to kind of bring everybody together and we're going to say a prayer. So I kind of looked at my sisters and, and I, I was standing at the wheelchair with my mom and, and so I was just getting ready to say, hey guys, let's pray. And here, here's that moment. And before I could do it, my mom said, well, I'm going to say a prayer. And so we were like, oh, ok. All right. And man, my mom rocked it. I mean, I, we, I, I was, I was crying like a baby. I, I was overwhelmed with just the strength and the faith of my mom in this moment when her heart was broken, she led us. Well, in that moment, you're a leader, even if you don't know it, you, you are a leader. And in that moment I was so thankful that I didn't have the lead. In that moment. I was so thankful that my mom led us toward God in a moment. That was feeling a bit impossible. In the chapter before this, Peter said this in first Peter 47, the end of all things is near now, someone may say, oh, well, I guess he got that wrong. I mean, it's been 2000 years and, and we're all still here. But remember the Bible's description is that a day for us is like 1000 days with God. So, so his clock is, is not our clock. And so really, rather than criticizing Peter and saying, oh man, he, he just got it all wrong. He's, he's a little off. We should be so thankful, so thankful that it's been 2000 years and we are still here, that God is being so gracious to make sure that our family and our friends are hearing the gospel that God is being so gracious that our, our Children and our our grandchildren can, can hear the gospel that Jesus is tearing on purpose because of God's mercy. We should be thankful that the end has not come. But yet the end is always near at any moment, Jesus can return. And so the mercy we see here is the draw nears is that Peter is saying this as the end draws near. We don't need leaders in the church that just know how to run a business, know what the church needs most. As the end draws near is leaders and church members who know a lot about God. That that's what we need the most. We need people that know about God and, and graduates. This includes you. You really need to know God, you, you need the hope of the gospel and graduates as you leave and head out into the world, the people around you, they need to know God. They need the hope of the gospel. So although this is written to, to leaders in the church, there is this picture, this one thing, this one reality that when it comes to the suffering that we find in the world, it is this one thing that we don't think about much, but we need it so desperately and that is leadership. We need leadership. We needed my mom to lead us in that moment. We need leadership last Sunday as a church, we, we sang the hymn. He leadeth me. Oh Blessed thought. And when we were praying with my dad last Sunday night. That was the thought that had been in my mind all day long. I'd just been singing that all day long. So that's what I knelt down in his ear and, and started singing, God is our leader. He leads us and he helps us to lead others. Now, when I'm talking about leadership, I'm not, I'm not talking about the latest TED talk. I'm not talking about the, the latest CEO all. Although there's a place for all of those things, the, the leadership that we need the most in moments that are satisfying and in the moments that are suffering is we need spiritual leadership. We need people who know God, helping other people know God, that, that's our, our greatest need. And you don't have to be a pastor and you don't have to be an elder and you don't have to be a deacon. You don't have to be on church staff. You don't need a position or title to do that. You just actually need to be someone who follows Jesus. So yes, Peter is writing to the leaders of the church, but, but he's writing really to the church at large that all of us at any point in time, he's urging us to follow after Jesus. And then he says this continuing in verse one as your fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ and one who is also a fellow partaker of the glory that is to be revealed. Now, those may sound just like some verses from the Bible, but, but they're strategic. You see, Peter could have said, you know, I was a witness of the resurrection. I mean, that's kind of a big deal, right? Jesus rose from the grave. He could have said I'm a witness of the resurrection because he saw Jesus come back from the dead. He, he ate with Jesus. He taught with the risen Jesus that that would be a pretty good thing to say he was a witness of or he could have said I was a witness of the ascension because because he was there, he, he watched Jesus rise into heaven supernaturally, but he didn't say he was a witness to either one of those things. He says he was a witness to his suffering. And, and why is that significant? Well, what did Peter do when Jesus was suffering? He ran away. He, he denied him at, at, at the moment of Jesus's greatest need, Peter, he denied him, had nothing to do with him. And yet in this moment, Peter said, I failed miserably. However, I will be a partaker of the glory that is yet to be revealed. In other words, Peter said, look, I failed man, I messed up, but I repented and God restored me. That's great news. That's, that's fantastic news because what Peter is saying is my failure does not define my life it's real, it happened, it was there. But what defines my life is the treasure of Jesus Christ. So what defines your life? What, what defines your life? Is it the treasure of knowing Jesus? Listen as a, as a leader of the church. I'm really glad that Peter wrote that because the reality is, I don't know if y'all know this, but church leaders mess up. They don't get everything right. They, they fail and it is great news to know that there is repentance and mercy from God and friend. The same is true for you. You don't have to be a church leader for that mercy. Our failures do not have to define us. We can repent, we can be restored, we can have our treasure in Jesus, be our greatest treasure. Peter is urging believers, urging church leaders turn to Christ, follow after Jesus and because of his failure, because of his restoration, because of the mercy of God. He gives this challenge in verse two, shepherd, the flock of God among you, shepherd the fly. What in the world does that mean? Well, it means quite simply just, just take care of believers, take care of, of those people in the church, nourish them, do all that you can to nourish and protect and, and heal and strengthen them. And here's the amazing thing that happens when that happens in the life of the church. When there's nourishment and protection and healing and, and strengthening what happens is that actually leaves the church. When, when we are a healthy church, we become healthy evangelists, we become a healthy witness outside of our campus. It is the the nurturing and, and the health, the protection, this, the strengthening that changes everything. When we're together for good, the good doesn't just happen here. The good leaves campus. And so the challenge for church leaders and all of us in a sense is to shepherd, the flock of God to nourish, to protect, to heal and to strengthen. And that sounds all good and positive. But, but just a reminder in terms of church leaders that cannot be accomplished by one person that can't be accomplished just by me and Tammy and Lindsay. And that can't be accomplished even if we, you know, bring the rest of the staff and the deacons in. No, it, it's a huge job to care for an entire flock of people following after Jesus. That's why we use the word under shepherds in the life of the church because there's only one good shepherd, there's only one true ultimate shepherd that can actually truly help the heart and the mind and the soul of every single person, past present and future. So if he's the good shepherd, how does the under shepherd shepherd? Well, he shepherds by again, those simple things by nourishing, by protecting, by healing, by strengthening. See, the primary responsibility of, of a church leader is not just to run the business. The primary responsibility of a church leader is to make sure that the church knows God loves God and loves God people. And the way they do that again is through the nourishing the protecting the healing and the strengthening. So what does that look like? What, what happens is within the church from the leaders of the church? And throughout the church, we nourish by helping people discover God's word. God's truth. We, we protect by helping them see that in a world of sin. It is God's truth. It is our best protection from all the sin that comes our way. We heal by giving each other. God's word and God's truth because it's only God's truth that will actually heal. It's the only thing that can really be a medicine for our hearts and our minds and our souls. There's all kind of catchy phrases that we may use for people when they're suffering and when they're hurting, but there is nothing like the truth of God to change a person's heart and mind and soul. And many of us firsthand know that reality and then we strengthen by helping people see that it is the word of God that when we are attacked without and within it is the word of God that makes us strong, nourish protect, heal, strengthen. These are the things that are involved with shepherding the flock. These are the realities that we need the most. And again, how do we do that with God's word, with the truth of the Bible? Listen, the Bible is, is not just an ancient manuscript, it's not just a game plan for life. It's not just a map for our faith. It is the book that contains the Holy Divine words of God words that God intended for us to know, to engage with, to embrace, to enjoy and to obey. There is no substitute for God's word. There is no trade off for God's word. So how are you shepherding? How are we shepherding as, as professing Christians? How are we doing it at shepherding our own hearts with God's word? And how are we doing it? Making sure that we're helping other people find the truth of God in his book for their nourishment, for their protection, for their healing, for their strength. Peter gives us some other images of this shepherding leadership. In verse two, he says, exercising oversight, no under compulsion but voluntarily according to the will of God. In other words, a Christian leader, a church leader or a Christian in general, can't say, well, I'm going to do this because the Bible says I got to do it, you know, no, our attitude should be, I get to do this. I I want to do this as leaders and as Christians, our get to and want to, when it comes to the gospel always has to outweigh our have to, it's not something we have to do it's something we get to do. And Peter goes on in verse two and not with greed but with eagerness. Notice he said not with greed. He didn't say not with need. Ok. So it's greed, not need. In other words, it's still a really good thing to pay the church staff. Ok? I just wanna give a little shout out there. It's still a good thing. But notice it's not the, the greed that should drive it. It's not anything material. If you're a leader in the church, you lead. Not for a paycheck, you lead. Not because the church has elected you as a leader. You lead. Not because you have a title or a position you lead because you are eager for the gospel to be the greatest truth found in the church. You lead because you wanna help other people in your home and at church and at work and everywhere else you go, you want them to find this truth that has changed our lives. It's not for greed. We're eager to do it for the glory of God. Then Peter says this nor yet as domineering over those assigned to your care. In other words, Peter says, we don't need any bullies in the church. Don't, don't be a bully. Don't, don't be domineering. Don't be fighting to get your way. Don't be fighting for the new ways. Don't be fighting for the old ways. Don't domineer rather. What does he say? Care? All Right. That, that's amazing math. Right. Don't be domineering, be caring that that's what the church needs the most from leaders. That's, that's what the church needs most from fellow Christians. Not domin, not people who are fighting to get what we want, but people who are caring, people who are loving people who are nourishing and protecting and healing and strengthening and then Peter wraps it all up with really just one phrase. Listen what he says in verse three. But by proving to be examples to the flock, an example, what kind of example are we being to one another? Let me go ahead and tell you we're not perfect. All right, you know, we have our moments where we're terrible examples to others, but hopefully, those are few and far between because as we treasure Jesus, we have the ability by his power to be an example to others of what it means to know God and trust God. Listen to these, these two lists of words, professional, confident, creative, visionary, proactive, same again, professional, confident, creative, visionary and proactive. Now compare those to these words, humble, faithful, prayerful, diligent, and trustworthy. Which one of those lists do you think God is using to look for leaders in the church? And which one of those lists do we far too often use when we look for leaders in the church. God's eyes are looking for the humble, the faithful, the, the prayerful, the diligent, the trust worthy he's looking for those who understand the picture that we see in scripture, right? That perhaps the greatest moment of leadership in all of the Bible is a moment when Jesus took his robe off and he got down on his knees and he washed the feet of his disciples. Is, is that what we're looking for in a leader? Is that the the model that we're trying to chase after? There's, there's other things that have to be done. But, but are we looking for servant leaders? Are we looking for, for leaders like exactly what Jesus modeled? And and why should we be looking for leaders like that? And maybe more specifically, why should we want leaders like that? And why should someone want to be a leader like that or even let's spread it out? Why would any of us as Christians want to be a servant leader in the ways that Peter is describing? Well, here's why verse four and when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. I saw a great thought years ago. It says, have you ever seen a king sad on his day of coronation? I, I did, I didn't watch King Charles's coronation. I mean, he doesn't, you know, he doesn't really have a Disney World kind of face, you know, at times, you know, so I don't know, maybe, maybe he wasn't super smiley. I don't know. But I mean, the reality is, it's, it's strange to see someone on the day of coronation. You know, sad. My dad was not a pastor. He wasn't an an elder in the church. He, he did serve as a, as a deacon, but he wasn't a pastor and he, he wasn't an elder but, but just a few minutes before sunrise on Monday morning, he received his unfading crown of glory because that's what was promised to him by Jesus. My dad nourished, he protected, he healed, he strengthened. He was someone who did it because he wanted to and because he got to not because he had to, he wasn't greedy, he was eager, he was trustworthy. He wasn't a bully. He was caring and he proved himself to be an example to our family, not just to our family but to others was my dad. Perfect. Nope, not even remotely but did my dad lead and shepherd. Yeah, he did. He was a leader and he was a shepherd. He, he led himself and he led our family and because of his leadership, he led himself in his suffering and he led our family in our suffering. How because he wasn't following his own lead, he was following the lead of the Lord. He was following the good shepherd. So it was easy for him to shepherd us through suffering graduates. I want you to imagine 30 years from now. I know it's kind of hard. So I I'll try to help you Friday. I'm at my home church where we had the service for my dad and, and then afterwards I'm, I'm hugging people and, and shaking hands with, with all of these people that I, I've known, you know, most of my life and in my home church now I did not hug my pastor or shake hands with my youth pastor that was there when I was there because they're no longer there who I was hugging were people who have been there. A lifetime people who have been there in and out of all the pastors and youth pastors that have come through people who have treasured Jesus Christ and are still treasuring Jesus Christ. Men and women who help me see that the greatest treasure in the universe is knowing Jesus. So graduate, you've, you've had some men and women like that in this church. And as you leave, you may be going to a new church, a new job, a new city, a new place. Look for men and women who are servant leaders. Look for the examples of people who are servant leaders. Here's why because servant leaders, those that are treasuring Jesus Christ, they're the ones that will help you find the fuel for the satisfying moments in life and the suffering moments in life. Those people that I saw on Friday were reminders to me that when I was your age and younger, they found ways to say dow run hard after Jesus because there's only one life. It will soon be passed. Only what's done for Christ will last grads go do things that blast, go do things for Christ. Why do we wanna be together for servant leadership? Because it's servant leaders that keep helping us in the direction of the greatest and final graduation. The only graduation where we receive an unfading crown of glory. That's good. Let's be together. Forget.