In church ministry we hear a lot about ‘shepherding,’ that we are to…
Acts 20:28 28 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.
1 Peter 5:2-3 2 Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers– not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; 3 not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.
We who serve as leaders of God’s people, servants of the Lord Jesus in His church, are to shepherd well. We pastors (the word means shepherd), elders, and leaders are to be like Jesus who is the Good Shepherd (read John 10, Psalm 23). So once again we are to do what Jesus would do as we shepherd/lead God’s people.
In knowing this standard it helps to gain God’s expectation on us as leaders in the church. In the Bible book of Ezekiel 34:1-16 God gives some specific expectations of shepherds as He chastises the leaders of Israel. Through this passage there are three basic areas God is looking to us to accomplish, to shepherd well.
The first expectation God has on us leaders of His church is to create an environment and application that develop spiritual health. Israel’s shepherds were criticized by God for not feeding and clothing His people. We know that a steady diet of God’s Word brings health (2 Timothy 3:16-17). So we are to preach, teach, and draw people to the Bible. As well, the clothing God desires for us is the right living of Jesus (read Ephesians 4:24-32, Colossians 3:1-10). As leaders we are to challenge people to righteous living, living life God’s way, clothing them in Jesus. Are we doing that?
The expectation God has on us as leaders are to care for those who are hurting. Israel’s leaders were rebuked for ignoring the sick, hurting, and broken. Living life has with it hazards. People get hurt; divorce, disease, relationship issues, internal issues, financial issues…and the list goes on. Life even allows for people to step into the self inflicted hurts of willful sin. People struggle, suffer, experience great pain and God has placed us as leaders to help and provide an environment of healing. One of the first steps in caring is to know people and give them an opportunity to be known (one of the main reasons small groups is vital!), so their needs will be seen and not neglected. Are we doing that?
The third expectation God has on us leaders is to rescue those who have wandered, scattered or lost. It was obvious that Israel’s leaders did not go after those who drifted away from the flock. The natural pull of this world is away from God and away from His people/the church. People will get so wrapped up in their lives that church and being with God’s people will become less and less, and people will wander, stray, and get lost. If we are meeting God’s expectation it will mean we know who has not been around in awhile (here again small groups is a key). It also means we go out after them and seek to love them back to the Lord. Are we doing that?
As I read a passage in Ezekiel over these past few days I was challenged to shepherd well. I encourage you to do the same and use your leadership influence to help us meet God’s expectations and shepherd well Cypress Church.