I have a special concern for you church leaders. I know what it's like to be a leader, in on Christ's sufferings as well as the coming glory.
Here's my concern: that you care for God's flock with all the diligence of a shepherd. Not because you have to, but because you want to please God. Not calculating what you can get out of it, but acting spontaneously.[
Not bossily telling others what to do, but tenderly showing them the way.
When God, who is the best shepherd of all, comes out in the open with his rule, he'll see that you've done it right and commend you lavishly.
And you who are younger must follow your leaders. But all of you, leaders and followers alike, are to be down to earth with each other, for - God has had it with the proud, But takes delight in just plain people.
So be content with who you are, and don't put on airs. God's strong hand is on you; he'll promote you at the right time.
Live carefree before God; he is most careful with you.
Keep a cool head. Stay alert. The Devil is poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to catch you napping.
Keep your guard up. You're not the only ones plunged into these hard times. It's the same with Christians all over the world. So keep a firm grip on the faith.
The suffering won't last forever. It won't be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in Christ - eternal and glorious plans they are! - will have you put together and on your feet for good.
He gets the last word; yes, he does.
I'm sending this brief letter to you by Silas, a most dependable brother. I have the highest regard for him. I've written as urgently and accurately as I know how. This is God's generous truth; embrace it with both arms!
The church in exile here with me - but not for a moment forgotten by God - wants to be remembered to you. Mark, who is like a son to me, says hello.
Give holy embraces all around! Peace to you - to all who walk in Christ's ways.
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved. (The Message Bible Online)