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Shepherd The Flock Of God
Pastor Seth Karber - March 20, 2018

What is a pastor's responsibility, besides preaching and studying? Well, the answer is...pastor!

One of Jesus' favorite metaphors for spiritual leadership is a shepherd, a person who tends God's flock. A shepherd rescues, feeds, leads, protects and comforts. These are the responsibilities that belong to every pastor. In fact, the word pastor means shepherd.

Peter writes this to elders who would have been familiar with sheep and shepherding:

1 Peter 5:1-4
1Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed, 2shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; 3nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock. 4And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.

To give you a more complete picture of a pastor's role, let's look at the nature of sheep, the task of shepherds, and how they compare to the pastor's job in the church.

Shepherds Are Rescuers
A sheep can be totally lost when they're just a short distance from their home. They have no instinct to get back to where they came from. They cannot find their way back. They will inevitably walk around in circles, confused and freaking out. When they go astray and they get lost, they become helpless and unable to find food or water. They need a shepherd to bring them home.

And so when Jesus saw the crowds, lost, spiritually disoriented, and confused, He compared them to sheep without a shepherd (Matthew 9:36). The prophet Isaiah described lost people as those who, like sheep, have gone astray, each one turning to his own way (Isaiah 53:6).

Like lost sheep, lost people need a rescuer. Sheep need shepherds! People need a shepherd, to lead them to the safety of the fold. A pastor does that by pointing the lost toward Jesus, the Good Shepherd who lays down His life for the sheep (John 10:11).

Shepherds Are Feeders
Sheep spend most of their lives eating and drinking, but they don't know the difference between poisonous and non-poisonous food. That means the shepherd must carefully guard what they eat and lead them to the good pastures.

Jesus belabored to Peter the importance of feeding the sheep. Jesus said, Do you love me, Peter? Then tend My lambs, shepherd My sheep, tend my sheep" (John 21:15-17) The pastor's goal is not to tickle the ears of the sheep, but to feed their souls. Those who fail to feed the flock are not cut out to be shepherds (Jeremiah 23:1-4).

Shepherds Are Leaders
Peter challenged his "fellow elders" to "shepherd the flock of God among you" by "exercising oversight" (1 Peter 5:2). God entrusted them with the authority and responsibility of leading the flock. Pastors are accountable for how they lead, and the flock for how they follow (Hebrews 13:17).

Besides teaching, pastors exercise oversight of the flock by the example of their lives. Being a pastor requires getting in among the sheep. They see him and follow his example.

Shepherds Are Protectors
Sheep are almost entirely defenseless, they can't kick, scratch, bite, jump, or run. When attacked by a predator, they huddle together rather than running away. That makes them easy prey. Sheep need a protective shepherd in order to survive.

Christians need similar protection from the "wolves" and those who spread false teaching. Pastors must guard their sheep from going astray and defend them against the savage wolves that are trying to kill them. Paul admonished the pastors at Ephesus to stay alert and to protect the churches under their care. (Acts 20:28-30).

Shepherds Are Comforters
Sheep are so humble and meek that if you mistreat them, they are easily depressed and can simply give up and die. The shepherd must take care of his sheep not with the intention of distressing them. So, a faithful pastor must "admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, and be patient with all" (1 Thessalonians 5:14).

The Good Shepherd and His Shepherds
Jesus is the perfect example of a loving shepherd. He personifies everything that a spiritual leader should be. Peter calls Him the "Chief Shepherd" (1 Peter 5:4). He is our great Rescuer, Feeder, Leader, Protector, and Comforter.

Pastors are set in place by the Holy Spirit to guard the flock of God. (Acts 20:28). Theirs is a full-time responsibility because they minister to people who, like sheep, often are vulnerable, defenseless and sometimes wander off and go their own way.

Shepherding the flock of God is a giant task, but to faithful pastors it brings the rich reward of the unfading crown of glory, which will be awarded by the Chief Shepherd Himself at His appearing (1 Peter 5:4).

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THE DWELLING PLACE - April 26, 2018