Now may I who am myself an elder say a word to you my fellow-elders? I speak as one who actually saw Christ suffer, and as one who will share with you the glories that are to be unfolded to us. I urge you then to see that your “flock of God” is properly fed and cared for. Accept the responsibility of looking after them willingly and not because you feel you can’t get out of it, doing your work not for what you can make, but because you are really concerned for their well-being. You should aim not at being “little tin gods” but as examples of Christian living in the eyes of the flock committed to your charge. And then, when the chief shepherd reveals himself, you will receive that crown of glory which cannot fade. (JBP)
In a reasonable desire to ensure God’s church is well led and effective, some church leaders are in danger of becoming ecclesiastical CEO’s. In so doing, they forget the church is about relationships rather than ministry programmes. They may even impose their own “vision” on the church without first inviting that church to get to know them and trust them.
Church leaders, paid or unpaid, are primarily shepherds. All leadership, all vision, all strategy, arises out of this basic task. Which is to care for the people of God, not using them as cannon fodder to try out the latest idea read in some book or learnt at some conference.
The leader is to be a shepherd answerable to the great true shepherd, Jesus Christ. Such a person will not boast in the numbers attending or the physical resources they have at their disposal. They will find their greatest delight in forging life changing relationships with those they lead. A pastor who is isolated from the people he or she leads cannot truly pastor them.
It is one of the sad ironies that in some churches the leaders are so busy creating programmes and processes for their people that they have little time left over for actually relating to those people. Seeking to be business like does not mean the church becomes simply a business.
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We are called to be shepherds caring for the flock, not frantic sheepdogs herding the flock so that they conform to what our vision for them might be.