Vol. 5, No. 11
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(Gospel Advocate, Vol. 142, No. 5, May 2000, p. 13.)
Paul and Peter both exhort elders to shepherd the flock. Paul said to the elders of Ephesus: "[Shepherd] (t)ake heed unto yourselves, and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit hath made you bishops, to feed the church of the Lord which he purchased with his own blood" (Acts 20:28 ASV). Peter said, "[Shepherd or] (t)end the flock of God which is among you, exercising the oversight, not of constraint, but willingly, according to the will of God; nor yet for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind" (1 Peter 5:2).
The shepherd is a perfect example of what the elders are to be to the congregation. The shepherd rules the flock but does not lord it over the flock. He loves the flock and leads them gently along. The shepherd sees to it that the flock has food or pasture. He also sees to it that they have shade and protection and shelter. The shepherd examines the flock to see that they have no sores or wounds. He calls, and the sheep follow. The shepherd does everything needful for the sheep. Similarly, the elders must shepherd the flock of God.
The good shepherd will lay down his life for the sheep. He will protect them against false teachers. He will refute the error and will lead them to pastures or sources of good food and nourishment. He will lead them beside still water or water that is good and healthy. He will protect them and nourish their wounds and diseases. He will see that they are not misled or mistreated but will treat them with love and kindness.
The good shepherd will know the Chief Shepherd -- Christ. He will study all about Christ until he knows everything taught about him. He will study about Christ until he has transformed his life to live a life like Christ. He will show Christ living in him. He will love as Christ loved and serve as Christ served. He will live a holy and pure life as Christ did.
The good shepherd will know the Word of God. He will study the Bible carefully and prayerfully. He will memorize all he can of the Bible. He will teach it thoroughly and teach it clearly.
The good shepherd will know the sheep well. He will not only know them by name but also know their talents, their strengths and their weaknesses. He will know their problems and do all he can to help them overcome their problems. He will know their families. He will know where the children are in school and be able to discuss their activities with them.
The good shepherd will know the enemies of the flock. He will be prepared to overcome the enemies and slay them at the feet of the sheep. He will know false teaching and false teachers and expose them by the Word of God. He will know the dangerous enemy far in advance and be prepared to fight and win victory over the false teachers and false doctrines.
The good shepherd will recognize the opportunities for growth and how to grow. He will study growth situations and growth opportunities. He will know the size of his flock and know the need to enlarge his flock. He will constantly be seeking the lost and building up his flock with new members.
The good shepherd will know when to divide his flock. He will make wise decisions about the flock and its division. If he gives the flock to other shepherds, he will still maintain an interest in it and its growth and development.
The good shepherd will know and plan the spiritual life for his sheep. He will set the example of growing spiritually, and he will teach the sheep so they will grow. He will plan spiritual worship. He will plan activities for growth both numerically and spiritually.
The elders among us must understand the verb "to shepherd" and fulfill their responsibilities as shepherds.