All the way my Savior leads me

The theme at our congregation this year is from a song by Fanny J Crosby, All the way my Savior leads me. She is one of my favorite hymn writers. Fanny Crosby was blind, and in most of her hymns you can see some reference to sight, seeing or vision. This song is no exception.
Today I want to share with you the lyrics to this song for your meditation.
All the way my Savior leads me
What have I to ask beside?
Can I doubt His tender mercy?
Who through life has been my guide
Heavenly peace, divinest comfort
Here by faith in Him to dwell
For I know whate’er befall me
Jesus doeth all things well
All the way my Savior leads me
Cheers each winding path I tread
Gives me grace for every trial
Feeds me with the living bread
Though my weary steps may falter
And my soul a-thirst may be
Gushing from the rock before me
Lo! a spring joy I see
All the way my Savior leads me
O the fullness of His love!
Perfect rest to me is promised
In my Father’s house above
When my spirit, clothed immortal
Wings its flight to realms of day
This my song through endless ages
Jesus led me all the way.

Daniel – Stand Firm and Take Action

He shall seduce with flattery those who violate the covenant, but the people who know their God shall stand firm and take action.
(Daniel 11:32)

Daniel chapter 11 can get pretty confusing for me, but when I come to this verse I get the main point. Whatever is going on here in chapter 11, there are people who are seduced and break God’s covenant. That is sad, and that is the way of the world. However we also see that there are those who know God, stand firm and take action.

I’m seeing so many connections between Daniel’s theme and the book of Revelation. In both books, God’s people are being oppressed by a beast, and in both books the Son of Man, Jesus overcomes that beast. Also in both books, those who are with the Son of Man, Jesus, can and will overcome and conquer the beast.

And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. 
(Revelation 12:11)
This is our encouragement for today. We are in a war against Satan and any “beast” he sends our way to torture us. The Devil is, with all his might, seeking to destroy God’s work. But Jesus is on the throne, He has already conquered and He reigns supreme. Death, sin and the Devil have no power over Him. In Christ, the Devil has been disarmed and made powerless.
So stand firm today, men. Stand firm today in Christ. Fight the beast. Do not love your lives even unto death. You have a covenant with Christ to keep. You have His blood covering you. His word is always there to guide you. But standing firm means more than standing still. It means taking action.
Take action to say kind words and to forgive others. Take action to reach out to encourage someone else. Take action to say no to the Devil’s temptations. Take action to be honest when the pressure is extreme to be dishonest. Take action to speak up for God to your boss, your neighbor, your friends, etc.
Stand firm and take action.

 

Remember When?

Today, I would like for us to consider two passages of Scripture where God calls us to our former days. Remember When? This is a great exercise for a church, for individuals and for married couples. It’s time to revisit how we used to be, what we used to feel like, and what our perspective was back then.

But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one. Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.
(Hebrews 10:32-36)

These Christians were about to give up and go back to Judaism in order to avoid the persecutions they were facing. They were just done, and they were tired and discouraged. Sadly, some just wanted to quit. This is a very real situation for many Christians, many churches and many marriages. What does the Hebrew writer ask them to do? Remember what it was like when you first became a Christian? Do you recall what you felt like? How did you feel about living for Jesus, even when you were being persecuted for it? What happened to that fire and that enthusiasm? It’s time to go back to the beginning like you were on the honeymoon with Jesus.

Here’s another passage in which Jesus is speaking to the church of Ephesus. They were “doing” everything right, but they were about to lose their fellowship with Jesus. Why? The love they had at first was gone. As one writer said, “They were gun barrel straight on doctrine but without any gun powder in the bullets.” What does Jesus say is the remedy? Go back to the beginning. Get back to your roots. Remember what it was like when you first became a Christian?

“To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: ‘The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands. “‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’
(Revelation 2:1-7)

I think those of us who are older should spend more time just listening and observing those who are younger. Instead of constantly being in teacher mode, maybe we as the teachers need to be the students. Those young Christians have a lot of zeal and idealism, and we would do well by remembering what it was like when we were that on fire for Jesus. Instead of accusing them of being young, arrogant and idealistic, maybe we could get stirred up again by working with them.

It might be that we observe a young married couple that is just gushing with love for one another. We can gag at that and make fun of it, or we can say to ourselves, “Remember when?” Maybe our romance, and idealism, and fire is gone and we need to do some rekindling. Instead of making fun of that young couple by telling them the “reality” of what’s coming, maybe we can rejoice with them and help bring our fire back once again.

Daniel – But Go Your Way Till The End

“But go your way till the end. And you shall rest and shall stand in your allotted place at the end of the days.”
(Daniel 12:13)

The commentator Adam Clarke had four simple points on this verse, and I wanted to share them with you.

Here is proper advice for every man.
1. Thou hast a way – a walk in life, which God has assigned thee; walk in that way, it is thy way.
2. There will be an end to thee of all earthly things. Death is at the door, and eternity is at hand; go on to the end – be faithful unto death.
3. There is a rest provided for the people of God. Thou shalt rest; thy body, in the grave; thy soul, in the Divine favor here, and finally in paradise.
4. As in the promised land there was a lot for each of God’s people, so in heaven there is a lot for thee. Do not lose it, do not sell it, do not let thy enemy rob thee of it. Be determined to stand in thy own lot at the end of the days. See that thou keep the faith; die in the Lord Jesus, that thou mayest rise and reign with him to all eternity. Amen.

Amen.

Request. Response. Resolution.

20 Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Him with her sons, kneeling down and asking something from Him. 21 And He said to her, “What do you wish?“  She said to Him, “Grant that these two sons of mine may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on the left, in Your kingdom.”  22 But Jesus answered and said, “You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with”  They said to Him, “We are able.”  23 So He said to them, “You will indeed drink My cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with; but to sit on My right hand and on My left is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it is prepared by My Father.”  24 And when the ten heard it, they were greatly displeased with the two brothers. 25 But Jesus called them to Himself and said…   (Matt 20:20-25; NKJV)

Right after Jesus reveals His betrayal and death to the disciples, He is asked that seats of honor would be granted to two of them when Jesus comes into His kingdom.  As I said earlier, I don’t want to be too hard on these guys as we all find ourselves putting our foot in our mouths when we start thinking of ourselves first.  They were asking for the “chief seats” and I think we can get into this trap too.  It is not hard to understand why.  They see what it looks like with Roman and Jewish leadership…what the trappings of power look like.  They have been on the wrong end of things for their entire lives and now they have an opportunity to be on top.  So, through their own selfish lens, they (or should I say their mother) asks for what they want.  It is selfish and it is misguided but it is what they “wanted”.  We can make the same mistake.

Jesus responds by qualifying what they are asking.  Per the previous statement, He asks if they can endure the cup (signifying God’s wrath) and baptism He will have.  Of course, they are certain they can…though they don’t really know what they are saying.  Jesus knows and He tells them what will come to pass in the future as a result of their faithfulness but right now they can’t see past the “chief seats”.  James will drink the cup of martyrdom (Acts 12:2) and we know that many disciples of Jesus suffered a lot (even death) because of their faith.  In the moment, however, the brothers can’t see that and only want to be in a place of honor with the King…even if they don’t yet fully understand it.

The result within the immediate family (of the 12) was the other 10 becoming very displeased with the brothers.  I don’t know if they are upset because they didn’t think to ask first, because they understood what Jesus was saying of betrayal and death and were hurt these two would be so selfish or what exactly got under their skin.  The bottom line is, the brothers’ selfish behavior created division within the group and it is starting to boil over.  This is not uncommon even today.  If there is a brother who is acting selfishly or in a way that is not unifying the group, we can get upset and then we can start talking among ourselves and then we can let it boil over and great division takes place.  What we should do, however, is do what Jesus does.

This is one of my favorite images in the Bible.  As this disagreement begins to take place within the 12, what does Jesus do?  He calls them to Himself.  I picture a huddle and maybe even a group hug eventually.  But here, Jesus calls them together and He teaches for them all to learn.  That is the case with us…we all need to learn from our own and from others shortfalls and mistakes.  None of us are perfect and when another hurts us or wrongs us due to their selfish behavior…call them near and bring Jesus with you.  Talk about it, pray about it, love one another.  We all get off track and take our eye off the ball.  This will hurt when the consequence of this is against us.  But it will hurt a whole lot more if we lose a brother and we have a great example in our Savior of how to call each other close, learn from each other and love one another…God is glorified in that!

There is a lot going on in these verses but the visual in my mind from God’s word of Jesus putting His arms around His disciples, pulling them near and teaching them…redeeming them…loving them is one that brings joy, hope and peace to my heart today.  I hope it does the same for you and if you need to repent and draw someone close that you might have pushed away…do that today.  Ask for someone to help in that.  Jesus is waiting and will go too.

Distorted Leadership Models – The Utility Player

This week we are going to focus on distorted leadership models. We got this concept from the book They Smell Like Sheep by Lynn Anderson.

Distorted Leadership Models – The Utility Player

The person who does it all and doesn’t delegate. He tries to play all the positions. He may be pretty good at a lot of jobs, but others need to be doing those jobs.

The utility player in sports is the jack of all trades. You can put him or her at any position and they can be pretty good anywhere. There are those 5 talent people (see Matthew 25), who can do just about anything. Sometimes those guys get caught in trap of trying to have their hands in every pot in the church.

There are many reasons this happens:

There is the man who had to be the utility person by necessity and now it is hard to give up. That person may have at one time been put in a position where he had to do the lion’s share of the work or it wouldn’t have gotten accomplished. It may be a small church where very few people are even available to work. In that case you have to do a large percentage of the work. But as the church grows, or if you are with a different group with lots of hands ready to work, you need to let them work. There are times when someone had planned on doing a task for the church, but someone (who meant well) jumped in front of them and did the job before he or she could get to it. That is not helpful to building relationships. I’m sure the apostles could have done a great job in taking care of the widows, but it wasn’t their job. God wanted someone else to oversee care for the widows (Acts 6:1-7).

There is the man who doesn’t really want to have the hard and uncomfortable conversations with those who are not doing their share. It is much easier just to do the job than to train, mentor, rebuke, coach, talk, ask, etc. Helping other guys learn, understand and appreciate the need to do these great works for Jesus is a challenging work. When we keep doing jobs that others in the church can be doing, we are crippling them and hindering their growth. We are also hamstringing ourselves, because we become very ineffective and inefficient in our own work God wants us to do.

There is the man whose expectations are too high, and those who want to do the work don’t measure up to his standards. In some cases there are those who want to work, but they feel pushed out and disregarded by those who are doing the work. Those utility players tend to micromanage. If you are going to delegate, this means you may have to wait a little longer for a job to get finished, because your schedule is not theirs. It also means that they may do the job differently that you would have, but that doesn’t mean it is wrong necessarily.

There is a great example of this in Moses’ leadership style. Moses was a man who wanted to do it all, and his motives were pure. However, as he was advised by his father-in-law, he was going to wear himself out. It wasn’t good for the Israelites, either.

Meditate on this final passage:

The next day Moses sat to judge the people, and the people stood around Moses from morning till evening. When Moses’ father-in-law saw all that he was doing for the people, he said, “What is this that you are doing for the people? Why do you sit alone, and all the people stand around you from morning till evening?” And Moses said to his father-in-law, “Because the people come to me to inquire of God; when they have a dispute, they come to me and I decide between one person and another, and I make them know the statutes of God and his laws.” Moses’ father-in-law said to him, “What you are doing is not good. You and the people with you will certainly wear yourselves out, for the thing is too heavy for you. You are not able to do it alone. Now obey my voice; I will give you advice, and God be with you! You shall represent the people before God and bring their cases to God, and you shall warn them about the statutes and the laws, and make them know the way in which they must walk and what they must do. Moreover, look for able men from all the people, men who fear God, who are trustworthy and hate a bribe, and place such men over the people as chiefs of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens. And let them judge the people at all times. Every great matter they shall bring to you, but any small matter they shall decide themselves. So it will be easier for you, and they will bear the burden with you. If you do this, God will direct you, you will be able to endure, and all this people also will go to their place in peace.” So Moses listened to the voice of his father-in-law and did all that he had said. Moses chose able men out of all Israel and made them heads over the people, chiefs of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens. And they judged the people at all times. Any hard case they brought to Moses, but any small matter they decided themselves. Then Moses let his father-in-law depart, and he went away to his own country.
(Exodus 18:13-27)

Distorted Leadership Models – The Sheriff

This week we are going to focus on distorted leadership models. We got this concept from the book They Smell Like Sheep by Lynn Anderson.

Distorted Leadership Models – The Sheriff

Flashing the badge, he’s the rule enforcer.

No offense meant at all to our fine men and women in law enforcement – I have to make sure I say this. Those men and women are the finest, and they put their lives on the line everyday for us – Thank you!

The focus of this article is the distorted view of leadership that comes when someone slaps on the “elder” badge in the church and begins to think he is the Judge, Jury and Executioner. Without regard for mercy and tenderness, he rains down condemnation and judgment to the law breakers. He would never accept treatment like this for himself, but he does it to others. He’s all about the rules and enforcing the law, but not much about the grace, mercy and relationships.

This model of leadership is seen in the Jewish leadership of Jesus’ day. They were keen on the rules, down to the minutest detail. The Scribes and Pharisees crossed every T and dotted every I, but what did they lack? Jesus said they did not have mercy (Matthew 9:10-13;12:1-14). He called them self-righteous hypocrites that did not do what they asked others to do (Matthew 23:1-4). They did not care for the lost, helpless and outcast, in fact they took advantage of sinners and widows (Luke 15). The broken state of others became an opportunity for them to gain more power over people (Mark 12:40).

It also makes me think of the heart of Jonah. Anna and the kids were reading about him as I was writing this, and I thought, “Wow, here’s Sheriff Jonah who wanted to ride into town and call out the condemnation, blow the whistle, lasso them all up and throw the people of Nineveh into God’s eternal jail. Jonah cared more for plants than he did people (Jonah 4). I think Jonah serves as a good example of the “sheriff” mindset.

Don’t get me wrong, rules do matter. Doctrine is from God, not from man, so we must stand for it in our churches (Romans 16:17-18). The elders/shepherds are to be sound in doctrine. They must be able to teach that doctrine, and are to have the courage to stand and fight for that doctrine (Acts 20:17-38; 1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:1-14).

But what we want to see out of our elders/shepherds is the whole picture, men who stand strong on the Word, but also have the merciful heart of God. If God was all about the rules, where would you and I be? Remember Jonah and the city of Nineveh?

Here are some character qualities of the elder/shepherd that balance out the “sheriffs” in us. Yes, be about the rules but remember this:

  • Live by example, show others how to live as God wants them to live (Hebrews 13:7,17; 1 Peter 5:3).
  • Be gentle and patient, realizing that Satan has a hold on people. They need teaching and time, not death and destruction (2 Timothy 2:24-26).
  • Discern the needs of those you are leading. And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all (1 Thessalonians 5:14). Some need encouraged, others need their hands held, others need gentle correction, others need warnings. In order for a elder/shepherd to know the difference, he has to know the sheep. It’s not a one-size-fits-all kind of response.
  • Not violent, but gentle, not quarrelsome (1 Timothy 3:3).
  • You must not be arrogant or quick-tempered (Titus 1:7).
  • Realize you have to give an account to the Chief Shepherd for their souls (Hebrews 13:7,17; 1 Peter 5:4).

As a final thought, why did the sinners come to Jesus and not to the Pharisees? Where did they find mercy and grace? Where did they find men who were only about enforcing the rules? Think about it? Are you a sheriff and a Jonah? Or are you more like Jesus offering mercy and grace? Who do people go to in your congregation for mercy, grace and acceptance?

Distorted Leadership Models – The CEO

This week we are going to focus on distorted leadership models. We got this concept from the book They Smell Like Sheep by Lynn Anderson.

Distorted Leadership Models – The CEO

Instead of leading the church by being in others’ living rooms, he’s making decisions behind close doors in the boardroom.

Do you value the opinions and input of others, or does that threaten you? Do you get defensive and bump out your chest when others question your decisions? Are you the kind of person who sits down with others and reasons why a certain course should be followed? How do you handle it when others try to give their ideas? What is your response/reaction when people don’t like your decisions and plans?

How do you see the decision-making process as an elder? Do you value the input of the congregation and seek it regularly? Have you experienced being in a congregation where many of the Christians wonder what’s going on because they are not let in on the directions and decisions of the elders? I am not trying to say that the elders have to consult the congregation on every single decision, but the congregation should be asked and welcomed regularly to give their input. And when those members give their input, their input should actually be considered and valued.

The apostles modeled this leadership when it came to choosing the 7 men to oversee the care of widows:

“Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” And what they said pleased the whole gathering, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch. These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands on them. (Acts 6:3-6)

The apostles modeled this leadership again when it came to choosing the men who would be messengers to the churches:

Then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole church, to choose men from among them and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They sent Judas called Barsabbas, and Silas, leading men among the brothers (Acts 15:22).

Here is some wisdom from Peter about being a shepherd leader, not a CEO boss-man.

So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.
(1 Peter 5:1-4)

Did we see that? Not domineering over those in your charge. You are not the boss, Jesus is. If a man understands that in his life, it will show at home, at work and in the congregation. We have enough bosses in this world, we sure don’t need them in the churches! Jesus had to work on His disciples to understand this concept. James and John thought to be great in Jesus’ kingdom meant that they would get the best seats of authority. Jesus had an entirely different view.

And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came up to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” And he said to them, “What do you want me to do for you?” And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” And they said to him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink, and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized, but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.” And when the ten heard it, they began to be indignant at James and John. And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
(Mark 10:35-45)

Distorted Leadership Models – The Cowboy

This week we are going to focus on distorted leadership models. We got this concept from the book They Smell Like Sheep by Lynn Anderson.

Distorted Leadership Models – The Cowboy

Cowboys drive cattle – Shepherds lead sheep

No offense meant to western fans and cowboys. What I’m talking about here is the mentality of the “John Wayne” kind of cowboy and the distorted view of a cowboy that is seen on film. Here is a video of a real Texas cowboy who loves his cattle and dearly loves what he does.

What we are dealing with here in this article is the concept of what is seen in a lot of westerns: a hollering, gun-blazing, whip-cracking driver on horseback who scares the death out of the cattle as they run from him. They do what he says, but there is no relationship.

I know from talking to a lot of folks over the years that they have seen this modeled in homes, in churches and at work. A person who is really good at driving an agenda, charging up the hill and commanding the troops. He gets the job done and accomplishes the mission, but fails to see the valuable relationships and tender hearts of those he is leading. You might ask those closest to you to see what kind of leader they view you as. Do they see you as a gentle shepherd or a whip-cracking, hollering cowboy driving cattle? Which type of leader do you want to lead you?

Please contrast that kind of leadership to the shepherding model seen in Scripture. Look at what a shepherd does for the sheep. what kind of relationship a shepherd has with sheep, and how that model keeps getting applied to leadership in the Bible. We cannot cover all these things in today’s short article, so please do your own studying. It wouldn’t hurt to spend some time around sheep. In fact, I know a brother who has served as an elder/shepherd who owns sheep; this brother’s advice is that no man should serve as an elder until he has spent valuable time around sheep. I tend to agree with him.

Here are a few random points about Biblical shepherding:

All of God’s leaders in Scripture are referred to as shepherds – from judges (2 Samuel 7:7) to kings (2 Samuel 5:2; 1 Kings 22:7; Isaiah 44:28) to prophets (Jeremiah 17:16; Zechariah 11:7) to priests (Jeremiah 23:1,11) to New Testament elders (Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 5:1-4). This analogy was not only common to the people of that time, it is a fitting description of the work and relationship a leader has with his people.

From Genesis to Revelation, God is described as our Shepherd (Genesis 49:24; Psalm 78:70-72; Revelation 7:17). Read Psalm 23 as one fantastic example of what the Lord does for us as our Shepherd.

Sheep need a shepherd. Look at how many times in Scripture the phrase “sheep without a shepherd is used” (2 Chronicles 18:16; Ezekiel 34:5; Zechariah 13:7; Matthew 9:36). Without the shepherd who will guide them to living water and green grass? Without the shepherd, the sheep will wander and get lost. If there is no shepherd they are vulnerable to attack from predators. Again, look through the Scripture to see what a shepherd does for his sheep (knows, builds relationship with his voice, leads, feeds, guides, protects, corrects, comforts, carries, fights and dies for them, etc.).

Gentle shepherds are not wimps. Just because a man is a gentle shepherd does not mean he is weak and spineless. Sadly, our picture of a tough American male is someone like John Wayne. A real man is a cowboy who will just bust into the saloon with either his fists or his six-gun and everyone just does what he says. He doesn’t take any stuff from anyone. We don’t typically think “shepherd” as the model of a tough American male. Remember, men like Moses and David were shepherds, and they were far from wimps and pushovers. If you want to know for sure, just try to attack or steal a shepherd’s sheep. The shepherd has to watch for potential threats and be ready to stand and fight the wolves. He is no wimp.

And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”
(Matthew 9:35-38)

Distorted Leadership Models – The Hired Hand

This week we are going to focus on distorted leadership models. We got this concept from the book They Smell Like Sheep by Lynn Anderson.

Each day this week we will consider one of the following:

  • Hired hand – Just in it for what he gets out of it (money, power, or praise). This man is not truly invested as a shepherd is in his sheep.
  • Cowboy – The cowboy drives cattle, the shepherd leads sheep. There is a huge difference between a cowboy and a shepherd.
  • CEO – Instead of leading the church by being in others’ living rooms, he’s making decisions behind close doors in the boardroom.
  • Sheriff – Flashing the badge, he’s the rule enforcer.
  • Utility Player – The person who does it all and doesn’t delegate. The person who likes to play all the positions. He may be pretty good at a lot of jobs, but others need to be doing those jobs.

Distorted Leadership Models – The Hired Hand

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.
(John 10:11-15)

The hired hand sees the wolf and flees, leaving the sheep without a protector. Why? There is nothing in it for him. He’s just there for a paycheck. He has no vested interest. Unlike the shepherd, he doesn’t know the sheep and he doesn’t have an intimate knowledge of each sheep. The shepherd sees the wolf, stays with the sheep, fights for the sheep and lays down his life for his sheep.

Look around at your congregation. Which men are the ones truly invested in the souls of the congregation? That’s your starting list of candidates for elders/shepherds! Then look to 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 to see if they meet the other qualities. That’s where you start – are these men truly the type that care for souls? Are they the type of men who get in the trenches and get muddy and bloody for the souls of others? Or are they the kind of men that stand aloof or bail when it gets tough?

Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears.
(Acts 20:28-31)

Do you see Paul in this above passage? Night and day for three years with tears! That’s a man who is not a hired hand. Here we see what Jesus is talking about. Paul made a special effort to meet with these Ephesian elders/shepherds (Acts 20:16-17). He wanted them to be forewarned and alert about what was coming to the flock.

His heart was for these elders to see the flock as he did. The flock of Ephesian souls was purchased by the precious blood of Christ. It is the Holy Spirit that appointed these men as overseers of this local body of believers. This local church had great value to the Chief Shepherd, and as shepherds these men were to have the same heart – the heart of God.

So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.
(1 Peter 5:1-4)

What is the motive of a shepherd according to Peter?

Not of compulsion – it is to be done willingly. I changed my diet out of compulsion, it wasn’t a joy, it was a drudgery. I’ve had a root canal out of compulsion, I certainly didn’t tap dance into the dentist office! There are many things we do because we are forced to, but serving God’s people shouldn’t be one of them. Look around at your congregation, which men do things out of joy and kindness? I mean, if it is like pulling teeth to get a guy to do something, do you really want him to serve as a shepherd?

Not for shameful gain, but eagerly – It’s not about the money. It can never be about the money. The love of money is the root of all sorts of evil (1 Timothy 6:10), including making a corrupt church leader. A man who really loves the brethren will serve them for free. He does it eagerly, not for a paycheck.

But please let me follow that up with this. An elder can be paid to do this very important work (1 Timothy 5:17). I wish more elders were paid to do this incredibly valuable work. I’ve met a lot of elders who didn’t want to be paid because they were afraid of violating passages like John 10 and 1 Peter 5. They are concerned about becoming hired hands. It is clear that they are not in it for the money, and those are the kind of men we should consider paying to serve as shepherds/elders. A lot of churches have gotten locked into the traditional mindset of paying a local preacher, even a second preacher, and sending money oversees to other preachers, but do not seem to contemplate compensating their shepherds. Read 1 Timothy 5:17 with your congregation, and pray about this with your group.

More to come tomorrow, Lord willing.