To the Elders and the Flock
5 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.
The elders were the spiritual overseers in the early church. They played the role of not only teachers, but shepherded the flock. Peter would be well acquainted with this term as he was a shepherd The last words Jesus said to him three times were, "Peter, Feed my sheep". In fact Jesus said, "Peter, do you love me more than these? Then feed my sheep!" Jesus was in essence telling him that in order to be a good shepherd, his sheep needed to be his number one priority. "These" could mean a lot of things, but in the context seems to mean whatever would be more important than shepherding God's people in Peter's life.
So it would make sense then as Peter instructs the elders to be shepherds with the following qualifications:
1. Watching over those under your care not because you must because you are willing. This is the difference between "servanthood" and "servitude". Servants give freely not under obligation. They choose to serve selflessly. Those in servitude serve under obligation or guilt, and aren't in it for the right reasons.
2. Another example of this is when warns them not to pursue dishonest gain. He is in effect saying, "if you are in this for the money, you are in the wrong business!" Someone said that to me before I became a pastor. LOL
3. Being examples to the flock under your care. This is perhaps the most important one. If you want to lead anyone, who you are speaks more loudly than what you say. Those who are given spiritual leadership have a higher accountability for their actions because they are examples for good or for bad. Bad examples can drive away the sheep from the flock. When a pastor or Christian leader has a moral or financial breakdown others will say, "I told you they are all hypocrites". Though we are all sinners, this type of example will not be helpful to the cause of Christ.
Finally, there is a promise that faithful shepherds will receive a crown of glory that will never fade away, when Jesus the Chief Shepherd appears. What is the crown of glory? Do the elders receive a better crown than other believers A crown was a garland of flowers the victor wore in Jesus' day. But because they were flowers they naturally faded. This is a crown that will never fade away, because it is everlasting crown reserved in heaven for those who have finished the race faithfully. The crown is the glory of God that all of those who have trusted in Christ will receive when they come into His kingdom. Any reward in this life will fade or lose its lustre over time, but the crown of glory will last forever in heaven.