Several years ago I paid a visit to a married couple who had expressed some interest in attending the church where I preached. During the course of the conversation, the husband asked, “Do you have any shepherds in your church?”
That seems like an easy enough question to answer. However, the word “shepherd” can have more than one meaning. So my mind started filtering through the various uses of the word. Did he want to know if we had any people who owned sheep? It didn’t seem likely that he was asking that. Did he want to know how our church leadership was organized? Again, that didn’t seem to be what he wanted to know. Finally, it dawned on me. He wanted to know if we had any people with the last name of “Shepherd”.
Let’s go back to the use of “shepherd” as a leader in the church. The New Testament plainly teaches that the local church is to be led by a team of men—often called “elders”–who are qualified to provide spiritual leadership, have the desire to take care of the flock and are called by God to do so.
Churches that understand and practice the biblical teaching on leadership have a much better chance of being healthy churches than those congregations who have not yet embraced this important concept. It is sad to watch churches without any real leadership struggle to keep the flock growing.
To church leaders, God says, “Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.” (Acts 20:28).
To all of us—including leaders as individuals—God says, “Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.” (Hebrews 13:17).
Does your church have any shepherds? If so, thank God for them. Work with them. Let them know that you support them and that you appreciate their ministry.