“And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.” (1 Peter 5:4, AV)
I began competitive marksmanship at about 12 years of age. It was something that I could do well and continued with it through college. In college, I did well, coaching the rifle team and competing. There, I won many of the league trophies. Every year there was an awards presentation and I would be presented one or more of these. When I returned from the military service and we moved into our first house, we put these trophies out for display on a shelf. However, during one of our moves there was no place to display them and besides, it did seem a bit pretentious to display them anyway. So, we put them in two boxes. There they stayed in our crawl-space for two more moves.
I hated to part with my shooting and fishing trophies for it was a memory and connection to a part of my life. However, they served no useful purpose and we were downsizing anyway. There are only so many nick-nacks that one can display. So, I put them up for sale on Craig’s List. I sold the lot for around thirty-dollars. I figured no-one will see them again anyway and you cannot take them to heaven with you, not that I would want to. They will remain on the earth perhaps being repurposed until they perish.
Earthly rewards are interesting things. They all are given here and they all remain here. They all will fade away. However, there are rewards that will last forever. The New Testament speaks of many. These rewards are crowns believers will receive when they meet the Lord. Here Peter spoke of one that specifically pastors who have faithfully fulfilled their calling will receive. It is the crown of glory.
The previous devotion looked at the tremendous responsibilities of the pastor and the proper motivations for this call. The pastoral work is a heavy responsibility as the pastor carries the load of the spiritual lives of those in his flock. Once, before I answered the call to the pastorate, a great pastor told me, “Being a pastor is hard work.” I understood that it would be work but I kind of said to myself, “Right,” in ignorance. After pastoring, I understood how heavy the pastoral load really was.
The good news is that with the pastorate, there is also great reward. Peter calls it “a crown of glory that fadeth not away.” This crown is not the diadema, the crown of the king, but the stephanos. The stephanos refers to the victor’s crown. It was a wreath made into a crown that would be placed on the head of one who would triumph in war or an athletic competition. Being made from earthly branches of the oak or ivy leaves, it was perishable. It would slowly wither and fade away. However, Peter wrote that the stephanos the faithful pastor shall receive will never fade away.
Peter does not describe what this reward, the stephanos, will be. Is it a literal crown or does it represent something else like the souls of those to whom the pastor ministered? We really do not know. We do know that this reward is special and it is for the pastor who has fulfilled his calling the right way with the right motives, and that it will never fade away.
All earthly rewards, accolades, and glory will perish, but the heavenly rewards will never fade away. they will shine for all eternity. Hang in there my fellow pastors. Your reward is great.