One of the biggest temptations that a minister of any kind has is to get “burned out” by the care of everyone’s problems. Especially, when time after time our work is without immediate results and people’s problems hit us with their intensity, it is easy to be burdened down. We truly love and are concerned for others. That is why it is so difficult to see the battles. The compassion wells up and it can become a tremendous burden if we do not know how to deal with it. This situation is common, even if you do not have the ministry of a pastor. It affects all believers who love and are trying to “care” for one another.

There are some direct answers in the Word of God regarding these questions of how to deal with the burdens and how to care for the church. I believe that 1 Peter 5 has specific truth to lift us up and to apply. I have printed the majority of the chapter from the Aramaic translation, so that we can see these keys. Peter begins by exhorting the elders among you to “feed the flock of God.” But God does not leave us without knowing HOW to do that. Let’s look at some of the principles in this chapter.


1 Peter 5:1-11:

Now I ask of the elders who are among you, (I an elder, your friend and a witness of the sufferings of Christ and a partaker of his glory that is about to be revealed): feed the flock of God that has been committed to you and perform [it] spiritually, not by necessity, but willingly, not for filthy gain, but from your whole heart, not as lords of the flock, but so that you might be a good example for them, that when the chief shepherd is revealed, you will receive from him a crown of glory that will not fade. And you young ones, be subject to your elders and clothe yourselves strongly [with] lowliness of mind toward one another because God is opposed to those who exalt themselves, but he gives grace to the humble. Therefore, humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that he might exalt you in the time that is right. And throw all your care upon God, because he is concerned for you. Be vigilant and mindful because your enemy, Satan, as a lion roars and walks about and seeks whom it is he might swallow. Therefore, stand against him being steadfast in faith, and know that also these sufferings are happening to your brothers who are in the world. Now the God of grace who has called us to his eternal glory through Jesus Christ, who has given us, while we endure these small trials, to be strengthened and made steadfast and established by him forever, to him [be] glory and dominion and honor forever and ever. Amen.

The first key is that we are to feed the flock of God that has been committed to you by being an example. The word feed means to shepherd. An eastern shepherd did not tell his flock what to do. He led them by being out front. The sheep followed his voice and followed his lead in all that he did. If we want to be able to help others, WE must first learn these principles and apply them. Then others will follow our example. The chief shepherd is our Lord Jesus and as we follow HIS voice, we can be examples to those who are entrusted to our care. So we need to learn how to follow our Lord and then we can be examples to others.

In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus showed us how he wanted us to deal with burdens.

Matthew 11:28-30 (Aramaic translation):
Come to me all you [who are] wearied and burdened, and I will refresh you. Take up my yoke upon you and learn from me that I am restful and I am meek in my heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is pleasant and my burden is light.
Jesus uses himself as an example. He did not ever get so overwhelmed by people’s problems that he did not know what to do. Why? Because he always went to God, his Father, for the solutions. He says that we should learn from him that he was restful (quiet) and meek in his heart. Meekness in Aramaic paints a beautiful picture. It comes from a verb that means “to lie down flat” or “to lie down under.” Jesus laid even his compassion down under the will of God and always listened to what God’s solutions were. For example, with the Pharisees, sometimes he confronted them.
Sometimes he ignored them. Sometimes he taught them in parables. Sometimes he lovingly spoke to them. Other times he said: “Hypocrites!” He spoke the Word of God to them always, whether it was quoting an Old Testament verse, or what the Father had told him to say. Each time he dealt with them was a unique situation and the Father never failed to give him the guidance of exactly what to do or say at that moment. Going to the Father for the answers makes the yoke to be pleasant and light. WE ourselves do not need to figure out the answers. God already knows them and is just waiting for us to be meek enough to him to ask him what to do.
This meekness is the second key in the passage in 1 Peter also. The phrase, “lowliness of mind” in verse 5 is the Aramaic word for meekness. The passage goes on to say that if we clothe ourselves with meekness, then God will give his grace. What are we to humble ourselves to, or “lie down flat under?” It says to humble ourselves “under the mighty hand of God.” Is not God mighty enough to have the solutions for EVERY problem? Is not his hand mighty to provide victory? As human people, we have a tendency to worry about problems, instead of going to the ONE who has the solutions. We need to lie down flat under the mighty hand of God. Worry never has solved anything. We need to “receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls” as it says in James 1:21.
The Word of God is “quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword.” It is interesting that the word for “powerful” in Hebrews 4:12, quoted above, in Aramaic means literally, “performs all.” This word “performs” is the same one used in 1 Peter 5:2, where it says, “perform [it] spiritually.” How do we feed the flock of God? This is the third key: care for it or perform it spiritually. The only way to be a good example and to be meek is to first subject our own minds to the Word of God, and then DO or perform the word by way of the Spirit. We first have the written Word of God to know the answers to life’s battles. But second, we can have the specific Word of God (revelation) that applies to that moment. This is how Jesus dealt with each person. That is why he is such a powerful example. He spoke the Word of God FOR THAT SITUATION, and this cut like a two-edged sword through all the outward circumstances and brought the solution to the light.
An example of how this works will serve well here. There is a lady who has been afflicted with an injury to her foot that has not healed for several months. The doctors say that she should try this procedure and then another, and nothing has helped. The truth of the written Word of God is that “by his stripes we were healed” (1 Peter 2:24). Jesus paid the price for all of our sicknesses. Then the specific revelation can come regarding what to pray for to minister to the lady so she can be healed. Also, in this specific case, it is necessary to confront the fear because of months of suffering: “How long do you want to continue to suffer, when healing is available?” I know that this steps on many people’s doctrine that God causes suffering, especially sickness, to test and try us. But that is contrary to what the Word of God says. Which do we want to believe? God or what people have taught us? What are we going to humble to? Our own ideas, or the mighty hand of God?
We need to perform the actual feeding of the flock spiritually, or by way of the Spirit. Only God knows the specific things to say, what to do, and how to do it. When we walk by the Spirit, then we will not be walking by our own sight, so it does not matter what any situation looks like. It is also interesting that the verse that is often quoted about the Adversary being “a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” is in this passage in 1 Peter. This verse is quoted to show that Satan tries to freeze us in our tracks, so he can be the victor. Well, what does the roaring lion do? First of all, it causes fear. Fear has an acronym that is: False Evidence Appearing Real. FEAR is caused when we look at the outward appearance of problems and believe the false evidence. The next thing that the roaring does is to make us stop relying upon God. That is where we need to ROAR BACK: “This is what the Word of God says!!! I will not believe the evidence.” We must stand steadfast on the truth of the written word of God and the specific revelation.
Standing steadfast in faith is the next key to the care of others. To be steadfast is not to give up. No matter what any situation looks like, there is an answer of truth that can be held to and kept as WHAT IS RIGHT. For example, if you were sick and a minister prayed for you, what do you need to do? You need to HOLD onto the truth–steadfastly–that what was given by the Spirit was the solution to the problem and that you WILL see the deliverance and get healed. It does not matter if the healing was an instant miracle or not. You are healed! It will manifest itself in short order IF YOU DO NOT LET GO OF THE REVELATION. This key applies to us (remember, as examples?) and to how we can minister to others. It is what we need to teach each other about ministering.
The last key in the passage in 1 Peter I have kept for last, because it is sandwiched in between being meek and being vigilant and steadfast. I think it is the most neglected and also most misquoted verse in this chapter. “Casting all your care upon him, for he careth for you.” Did we ever see the context before? Yes, it is important that we as individuals cast our care (anxiety) upon God and know that God cares for us. But what about in being an elder or minister with the “care” of the churches and those loved by us? The word for “cast” means to throw away in both Greek and Aramaic. Throw it as far from you as you can! Again, the anxious, worried kind of care is that outward appearance of all the problems and the burdened down heart. Care is what chokes out the seed of the Word as in Luke 8:14, so that it is without fruit. This kind of care must be cast away.
This is especially true, I believe, when one is an intercessor. The burdens of prayer that an intercessor carries are very heavy sometimes. But in order to continue to be able to pray and pray AS THE SPIRIT LEADS, the intercessor must cast the anxious care aside upon God. Only HE knows the answers and the purpose of the prayer is that there can be a solution to the problem. After each session of prayer, the intercessor must cast the heavy burden on God, and then just take up the pleasant and light yoke of the Lord. It is HIS job to solve the problems, not ours. With our own minds, we know nothing and can help very little. Let us cast those cares upon God!
This principle is not true only for intercessors. It is true for everyone who is an elder, everyone who is a minister and shepherd. If you have a family, you are a “shepherd” for your children. Those are the ones “committed to your care.” Do not these principles apply to how we should deal with our personal family problems also?
There is a tremendous promise at the end of the chapter in 1 Peter 5: “Now the God of grace who has called us…while we endure these small afflictions, to be strengthened and made steadfast and established by him forever.” Strengthened, made steadfast and established. We can be strengthened, not only relieved of the burden, but with “feet set in concrete” – established! This is the way we can live our lives everyday. This is how we can live moment by moment, no matter what the situation around us or with us. That is how Jesus walked each day, how he ministered to others day by day. We can look to him as our example and then be an example to others of this steadfastness of faith. We can walk by the Spirit and perform the care spiritually. We can humble our own minds under the mighty hand of God. We can cast our anxiety upon God. Then we will be able to resist the Adversary and will not be swallowed. No wonder the passage ends with: “to him [be] the glory and dominion and honor forever and ever.” With that we want to say, Amen!