Tuesday, October 4, 2011

"A Few Good Shepherds"

I read this today on the Grace to You website, by pastor-teacher John MacArthur. It made me think of our pastor. It is pastor appreciation week. I hope that not only you appreciate your pastor but you appreciate the Lord sending you a good one who fulfills all these qualities as the bible outlines. It is increasingly rare for pastors such as the kind described below to even exist in these times of apostasy and coldness, but they do. Tucked into nooks and crannies of good, functioning, loving churches off the highways and byways of America and beyond, humble, loving pastors labor. Our pastor is one of these, and no, you can't have him!

A Few Good Shepherds
By John MacArthur

Some modern church leaders fancy themselves businessmen, media figures, entertainers, psychologists, philosophers, or lawyers. Those notions contrast sharply with the way Scripture portrays spiritual leaders.

In 2 Timothy 2, for example, Paul uses seven different metaphors to describe the rigors of leadership. He pictures the minister as a teacher (v. 2), a soldier (v. 3), an athlete (v. 5), a farmer (v. 6), a workman (v. 15), a vessel (vv. 20-21), and a slave (v. 24). All those images evoke ideas of sacrifice, labor, service, and hardship. They speak eloquently of the complex and varied responsibilities of spiritual leadership. Not one of them makes leadership out to be glamorous.

That's because it is not supposed to be glamorous. Leadership in the church--and I'm speaking of every facet of spiritual leadership, not just the pastor's role--is not a mantle of status to be conferred on the church's aristocracy. It isn't earned by seniority, purchased with money, or inherited through family ties. It doesn't necessarily fall to those who are successful in business or finance. It isn't doled out on the basis of intelligence or talent. Its requirements are blameless character, spiritual maturity, and above all, a willingness to serve humbly.

Our Lord's favorite metaphor for spiritual leadership, a figure He often used to describe Himself, was that of a shepherd--one who tends God's flock. Every church leader is a shepherd. The word pastor itself means "shepherd." It is appropriate imagery. A shepherd leads, feeds, nurtures, comforts, corrects, and protects. Those are responsibilities of every churchman.

Shepherds are without status. In most cultures, shepherds occupy the lower rungs of society's ladder. That is fitting, for our Lord said, "Let him who is the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as the servant" (Luke 22:26).

Under the plan God has ordained for the church, leadership is a position of humble, loving service. Church leadership is ministry, not management. Those whom God designates as leaders are called not to be governing monarchs, but humble slaves; not slick celebrities, but laboring servants. Those who would lead God's people must above all exemplify sacrifice, devotion, submission, and lowliness.

Jesus Himself gave us the pattern when He stooped to wash His disciples' feet, a task that was customarily done by the lowest of slaves (John 13). If the Lord of the universe would do that, no church leader has a right to think of himself as a bigwig.

Shepherding animals is semi-skilled labor. There are no colleges that offer graduate degrees in shepherding. It isn't that difficult a job. Even a dog can be trained to guard a flock of sheep. In biblical times, young boys--David, for example--herded sheep while the older men did tasks that required more skill and maturity.

Shepherding a spiritual flock is not so simple. It takes more than an unskilled laborer to be a spiritual shepherd. The standards are high, the requirements hard to satisfy (1 Timothy 3:1- 7). Not everyone can meet the qualifications, and of those who do, few seem to excel at the task. Spiritual shepherdology demands a godly, gifted, multi-skilled man of integrity. Yet he must maintain the humble perspective and demeanor of a boy shepherd.

With the tremendous responsibility of leading God's flock comes the potential for either great blessing or great judgment. Good leaders are doubly blessed (1 Timothy 5:17), and poor leaders are doubly chastened (v. 20), for "from everyone who has been given much, much will be required" (Luke 12:48). James 3:1 says, "Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment."
end of excerpted article
----------------

Much is required of today's pastors. They lead cold and apathetic congregations, or congregations that are warm but busy, stressed, tired, and often ill. Fewer people are responding to altar calls, and even fewer are stepping up to serve in ministries. They are put upon, leaned on, counted on and sometimes stepped on. Yet they serve their people lovingly and preach the word faithfully every week. They have the world's most important job in the most difficult times. Love your pastor and support him. Even better, tell him so, and pray for him.

6 comments:

  1. Most of America's churches are filled with hirelings that have earthly ambition and have little or no concern for the things of God or his people

    ReplyDelete
  2. What does "hirelings" mean in the context you used it? Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  3. John 10:12-14

    King James Version (KJV)

    12But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep.

    13The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep.

    14I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.

    ReplyDelete
  4. thanks Jeff. I wasn't familiar with the KJV of that verse. Good one!

    ReplyDelete
  5. sure and l believe it the work of the flocks to produce milk for the shepherd for him to get strength to take care of them..

    ReplyDelete
  6. Anonymous, you lost me there. The Holy Spirit gives strength to one and all. The sheep do not produce milk for hte pastir. A mature congregation should be on meat, anyway.

    You can go here to find the duties of a pastir as described by the bible. http://www.neverthirsty.org/pp/corner/read1/r00435.html

    in none of the duties listed do we see "give milk." I surely hope you were joking.

    ReplyDelete

Can we interpret the Bible by finding out what this verse means to me?

Have you ever gone to a Bible study and either they use a curriculum or the Bible itself, and the teacher reads a passage and then opens it ...