To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder and a witness of Christ’s sufferings who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away. (1 Peter 5:1-4)
The Greek word for “example” is the word “tupto.” It means “a prototype, the first of a kind made for a model or imitation.” Real leaders in the church would never ask other people to do things they aren’t willing to do themselves. They don’t ask people to go places they won’t go. A good leader models what other people should do. We are to model Christ-likeness—even if we aren’t a pastor or apostle or prophet. We are all leaders at some level, in some arena. We can and should model the kingdom life of service and love. We can and should model attributes and values that we want our family, friends, employees and the whole church to have and live out. We do it because we are following Him and He has called us to be His models in the world.
If you are a parent, you understand Peter’s teaching on a different level. We all know and have experienced this fact: our kids study our behavior more than they listen to our commands. If we say one thing and then do another, they don’t hear what we mean; they only see what we did. They live what they see us model.