Church Leaders: Be a Shepherd

While shepherding is something a leader does, it is also a leadership quality because effective shepherding requires certain orientations within the leader that come out of the right heart attitudes and motivations. The Apostle Peter wrote to elders (presbyteros ... those who preside over the church; i.e., church leaders) --
Shepherd 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; nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. (1 Pet. 5:2-4, NASB)
1) Church leaders must remember that they are to be actively caring for people. - "Shepherd the flock"
 
Scripture likens believers to sheep and so the reference to "the flock among you." Shepherding is the church leader's job description, how one is to serve as an elder. While shepherds might have to repair a wall or gate at times, their primary responsibility is to tend to the flock. Even when performing maintenance, it is for the sake of the sheep.
 
If you are going to be a shepherd leader, you need to be people-oriented.
2) Church leaders must keep an eye on the big picture. - "the flock of God among you"
 
Notice the word "flock" ... a group of sheep, not a single sheep. Caring for an individual sheep would be more of a mentoring or discipling aspect of shepherding. As a church leader you do need to care for individuals but watch that you do not lose sight of the big picture of what is happening in your church. What is the overall condition of the flock?
 
Notice the phrase "exercising oversight" (episkopeo - epi: upon; skopeo: to look at, contemplate). Church leaders, as shepherds, you need to be careful that you are not so tied up with the details that you cannot step back and "look upon" or contemplate the overall condition of the flock, to get a grasp of what they need and where they need to go to get what they need.
 
If you are going to be a shepherd leader, you need to be Body-oriented.
3) Church leaders must check their motivations. - "not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness"
 
Shepherding should stem from God's call upon your life. When you do what you do as unto God, because you know in the depths of your heart that it is what HE wants you to do, you will tend to have the right ambitions in your leadership. When you serve as a leader merely because you were elected to it by the congregation, you will tend to find more reluctance within yourself and will not tend to wholeheartedly give of yourself. When you serve as a leader primarily because it seems like a position of importance, you will tend to be guided more by the opinions of others and become discouraged when the applause or affirmation are not forthcoming. When you serve as a leader because of what is in it for you, you will tend to let personal gain interfere with truly caring for those entrusted to you and could face and give in to temptations that bring ruin to effectiveness.
 
If you are going to be a shepherd leader, you need to be God-oriented.
4) Church leaders must be concerned about their attitudes and how they treat people, not just what they accomplish. - "nor yet as lording it over ... but proving to be examples to the flock"
 
As a leader, you are not superior to the other members of the Body. You merely have different gifting and/or role of ministry. If you have too high of a view of yourself, you very well might find yourself hung up on titles or positions more than simply serving.
 
As a leader, you are not the only one capable of discerning God's will. If you do not have a proper view of the Body and the part each person has in it, you might lead by control since you have the "edge" with God rather than lead by example.
 
As a leader, you must work toward the accomplishment of objectives but not at any cost. You cannot abandon or abuse the sheep. How you get there matters. The end does not justify the means.
 
If you are going to be a shepherd leader, you need to be process-oriented.
5) Church leaders must understand that shepherding is a stewardship. - "those allotted to your charge"
 
With an entrustment comes responsibility. Leaders must faithfully care for those in their sphere of influence, remembering that they are accountable to the Chief Shepherd for how they treat His sheep ... HIS sheep, who are ultimately also accountable to the Chief Shepherd, not you. Remembering this provides a safeguard for the way you treat them. If they are HIS sheep, you will not act like you own them and can treat them however you wish.
 
If you are going to be a shepherd, you need to be servant-oriented.
6) Church leaders must persevere, looking to God as the One they seek to please. - "And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory."
 
Shepherding is a process that never comes to an end. People never fully arrive. They need constant nourishment and protection. If you need a sense of completion, you might soon become discouraged.
 
Shepherding does not come with immediate reward. Though you might find blessing in being a leader, you will also find many trials and hardships as you serve "sheep" who are prone to wander. If you need instant return on what you do, you might become disillusioned or seek improper means of profiting.
 
If you are going to be a shepherd leader, you need to be future-oriented.
Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. (Acts 20:28, NASB)
 

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