Pastor, “when the chief Shepherd appears you will receive the unfading crown of glory” (1 Peter 5:4).
Peter means for you, as a pastor, to persevere in the ministry when the hard times come that make you not want to be a pastor. And they will come — family things that make the ministry almost unbearable, church conflict that makes it almost unbearable, external persecution that makes it almost unbearable. He knows those things are coming and, therefore, he offers you this amazing promise: “When the chief shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.”
If you look around and there doesn’t seem to be a lot of payoff here, lift up your eyes. And if you have been taught by some psychologist or ethicist that you shouldn’t live for reward, close their book and read the Bible. This is a glorious promise to faithful pastors in hard situations. It is meant to motivate you in the ministry. It is meant to produce perseverance. It is meant to produce eagerness. It is meant to produce willingness. It is meant to produce on the ground, in the trenches, exemplary life.
When the chief Shepherd comes, you who served faithfully in ministry and followed my instructions about willingness and eagerness and exemplary life, you will be crowned by the King of the universe. Pastor, you will be crowned by the King of kings. You can last. And if you dwell on it, dwell on verse 4 long enough, you could fall in love with this work, again. You can. Life is short. The crown is big.
They cannot rob you. Don’t let them rob you of the joy of the ministry.
Isn’t that remarkable that a book like 1 Peter, full of pain, cover-to-cover suffering, would say you should be a happy pastor? You should be a happy pastor. And your happiness in the ministry is rooted there in hope.
The clip above is from John Piper’s second message at the Bethlehem 2016 Conference for Pastors + Church Leaders. Listen to or watch the full message, “Preaching to a Persecuted People: The Pastor as Leader, Comforter, and Guide.”