“So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: 2 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;” (I Peter 5:1-2).
What are the responsibilities of those who serve as elders? To begin with, God calls upon elders to shepherd the flock of God that is among them. Secondly, elders are to exercise oversight on behalf of the congregations they shepherd.
Thirdly, elders are to serve in the local church with a willing spirit. Peter refers to this particular attitude with the phrase “not under compulsion but willingly.”
Not under compulsion (μή, ἀναγκαστῶς; ma anankastos) means not from a sense of obligation. Elders and pastors should not serve in a local church because they are forced to or someone has imposed the responsibility to lead the church upon them. Rather, they should serve willingly (ἑκουσίως; hekousios) or because they want to serve and have a desire to serve.
I have known pastors and elders that possessed the qualifications to serve, and the opportunities to serve, but who lacked the desire to serve. They didn’t want to serve. Serving the Lord should be from a joyful heart rather than from a reluctant heart no matter the service.
Perhaps Peter was warning elders and pastors about laziness. One pastor I heard preach warned his fellow pastors against four temptations: sex, self, silver and sloth, or laziness. A pastor’s calling (I Corinthians 9:16) is a divine one. Likewise, the task at hand is an urgent one (Romans 1:15). Pastors and elders must not be indifferent.
Another concern would be for elders and pastors to do only what is expected of them, never showing initiative or sacrifice. They do their thing, no more, no less. There is no devotion for their work.
Ask your pastor(s), elders and other church leaders if they enjoy serving the Lord. If they do, ask them for what reasons? If they don’t, then begin praying for them that they will soon reclaim the willing and joyful spirit of serving. May we also have this joy!
Soli deo Gloria!