1 Peter 5:1-7
As Peter finishes his letter of encouragement to the church, he encourages the leaders and young leaders to clothe themselves with humility. Peter describes his qualification to lead, the proper motivation for leadership, the reward of leadership, and an essential quality of leaders.
Before addressing the leaders of the church, Peter reminds them that he is a “fellow elder” who was a witness of Christ’s suffering and will share in the reward when Christ is revealed. Peter is reminding his readers of his qualifications to lead leaders. After establishing his leadership credentials, Peter describes the proper motivation for Christian leadership:
- Christian Leaders must serve willingly by God’s leading, not out of man-made obligation. (1 Peter 5:2)
- Christian Leaders must serve eagerly, not for monetary gain. (1 Peter 5:2)
- Christian Leaders must serve by example, not attempting to manipulate others’ behavior. (1 Peter 5:3)
- Christian Leaders who lead this way will receive an eternal reward (1 Peter 5:4)
Peter then tells the leaders to “clothe themselves with humility.” To clothe oneself is a deliberate act to put on clothing. Our daily routine involves putting on the clothing we will wear today, and there are choices that we must make. Should you wear warm or cold weather clothes? Does our day require more formal attire or casual? Will you need a change of clothes at some point during the day. These are all willful decisions about your clothing for any given day. In the same way, Peter tells his reader that they must “clothe themselves with humility.” They must deliberately put off pride and put on humility.
Humility is a personal quality in which an individual shows dependence on God and respect for others. Each person has a choice to make. Will they rely on themselves or will they rely on God? Peter quotes Proverbs 3:34, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” The idea of humility is a foreign idea in popular American culture where being an independent individual is valued. The idea that you can be whatever you want to be based on your hard work and effort is a common life theme for many. A humble person is one who understands that for them to be all that God planned them to be, they must submit themselves to God and follow His Son, Jesus. Peter writes, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time.” (1 Peter 5:6)
With leadership and life comes struggle and anxiety. Peter encourages the reader to, “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7) This is a great example of a person with the quality of humility present in their life. When anxiety comes, they give it to God, thereby showing their dependence on Him rather than relying on their own strength. Humble leaders with the right motivation for ministry are a powerful tool in the hand of God for His Kingdom.