Though he was not an elder at that time, Jesus could see Peter’s future and know that he was ready to sacrificially follow Him—and part of that would be in shepherding the New Testament church (see 1 Peter 5:1-5). In John 21, Jesus gives Peter four charges that are worth an eldership looking at carefully, and also for a congregation to look and see if their eldership is actually doing these things.
#1—Feed My Lambs: give attention to the young (21:15). How shall the young secure their hearts and guard their lives from sin? It is only by the preaching and teaching of the Word of God that a young person may understand and know the God that we serve (Ps. 119:1-8). Don’t ever substitute entertainment for education!
#2—Tend My Sheep: care for the hurting and suffering (21:16). The word, “tend” means “to serve or cherish the body; to rule or to govern over.” As shepherds look and see a sick sheep, their godly response is to guard that sheep closely and to do whatever they can to help the sheep become healthy again. Sleepless nights and countless prayers for sick and feeble sheep are part of the work of elders (see Heb. 13:17).
#3—Feed My Sheep: give attention to education (21:17). Bible classes, special studies, preaching from the pulpit, and devotional times are all means by which the elders choose to provide food for the flock of God. A malnourished sheep is a sheep ripe for the lion! An eldership has the responsibility to feed good things to the church that will nourish and build up (Eph. 4:14-16).
#4—Follow Me: follow the Chief Shepherd (21:22). An eldership could be doing all of the other things but not following Jesus. If they look to their own wisdom, if they do what they do without love for the Lord and love for souls, then they are not truly following Jesus (Luke 6:46; 1 Cor. 13:1-3). Thank God (and thank the elders) for elders who take seriously these 4 admonitions.
The Reminder, Graeber Road Church of Christ Weekly Bulletin, August 11, 2019.