50. Partake – The Christian Disciple Develops as a Shepherd
“May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, 21equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen” Hebrews 13v20-21
All Christian Disciple are to be shepherds, and even more so because you lead people! Leading God’s people means you have the responsibility to shepherd. All the characteristics of the Christian leader relate to God, His purposes and His people. Though these fundamentals overlap, they do focus on a particular aspect of leadership.
- The servant spotlights obedience to God’s person
- The steward emphasizes faithfulness to God’s mission, message and people.
- The shepherd highlights a care for God’s people.
The skilful mature Christian leader persistently obeys God, wisely uses available resources to accomplish God’s purposes and carefully nurtures the people God has provided. These three leadership roles should function harmoniously to produce distinctive biblical leadership.
1. Definition of a Shepherd Leader
A shepherd is charged with religious care and guidance of others. Hebrew ARAAH & Greek POIMENO both translate as the one who pastures and tends domestic animals. It is figurative for one who leads, teaches and cares for people.
- Psalm 23 – God is our shepherd. Leadership basically should find itself in the person and quality characteristics and activities of God Himself, for He is our leader.
- John 10v10 – Christ gives His life that we might have it more abundantly. Its focus is on the abundant life of that sheep.
- Hebrews 13v20-21 – the focus is on the good shepherd working in you, producing that which is well pleasing in His sight. All Christian Disciples are under-shepherds, moulded by the Holy Spirit, overseers of the flock of God.
- Psalm 78v70-72 – The concept throughout the Bible of leading God’s people is the concept of a shepherd.
The Shepherd’s responsibilities are to guide, nurture, protect and care. Shepherd leadership involves influence, motivating, modelling, counselling, exhorting and disciplining. The shepherd leads as a servant.
2. The Example of Peter
1 Peter 5 shows us how Peter leads leaders through both his relationship with, & leadership of the church elders.
His relationship – He establishes an equal relationship with these elders. This is the key in leadership. We must have a more than a vertical relationship; we must also establish a horizontal one. We are sheep, just as they are sheep. Here Peter is accepting these people as equals and he is showing them respect for their maturity, experience and gifts.
His Leadership Style – He says I exhort and beseech. I appeal to you elders (1 Peter 5v1).
i. (1 Peter 5v2) from a position of exhortation to a position of teaching them. He is teaching them the simple basic truths of shepherd leadership. He says you take the leadership and this is how to do it.
- Not by constraint, not because you have to, but because you are willing.
- Not for filthy lucre but have a ready mind. Be ready to serve not for gain (Job 7v2)
- Neither as lords over God’s heritage but as examples to the flock.
Peter as he exhorted and as he taught was choosing to influence their minds and then their wills and return their actions. He was modelling the type of leadership shepherd they should have.
ii. (1 Peter 5v4) He is motivating them towards the chief shepherd, Jesus Christ and toward the eternal reward, to do and to give your life for that which is of eternal value. The only things in eternity are going to be people and that is why shepherd leadership is so important. These people are of eternal value!
3. Characteristics of Shepherd Leader
Nurture (Psalm 78v72 & John 21v15-17). Jesus is concerned for the weak, the small and the young. He is concerned for their welfare, not primarily for how much wool, meat, milk or reproduction we are going to get out of them but he is concerned for their welfare. Only if you love me, will you be concerned for them and care for them.
Feeding & nourishing (John 21v16-17) – means to tend, manage, and govern the flock, feeding and nourishing them. The dual role of the shepherd, he is to manage govern, lead and to guide. He is also to feed them with the Word and nourish them. The person that the sheep respond to is the person who is interested in them. The person who is interested in the care and welfare of the sheep, is also the one ministering to their soul.
Protect (Acts 20v28-29). The job of a shepherd is to be watchful (Proverb 27v23). The word overseer means to look carefully into and to inspect. We must have a great sense of whose sheep they are; they are God’s sheep. God is watching me to see how I am taking care of His people.
Care for Needs (Ezekiel 34v4). Prominent in biblical shepherding is caring for the weak and healing the wounded. The biblical shepherd retrieves rather than abandons, He restores rather than rejects. The needs are so great and we are so limited, that is the big problem. (Acts 3v6).
4. Limits of Shepherding
- The shepherd leader is one who oversees the needs and development of God’s sheep.
- The area of ability – we don’t have the capacity to help everybody but what I have, I can give.
- The receptivity of people – go where they are receptive.
- I may have prior God given responsibility.
5. The Key to Shepherd Leadership
The question is not what I can get out of it, but what I can give? Leadership is always a situation. A leader must have followers, and must be prepared to be led. A leader must assume authority, and submit to authority.
For more to think about please do ask yourself the following questions, writing them down if you can, and see how you respond or react to them. Then why not share your answers with your spouse or a close friend, so that you can pray over any issues together.
Q1. Read Proverbs 27v23. What does this Proverb have to do with my Christian discipleship?
Q2. Read Hebrews 13v20-21. How is the Holy Spirit shaping my shepherding skills?
Q3. Read Ezekiel 34v4. What lessons can I learn from this section in regards to my being a shepherd?
As ever, if you have any comments to make on this, please do contact me at partake(at)hotmail.co.uk. Thank you.