Tuesday 20 October 2015

one angle on pastoral ministry

Teaching John 10 the other day I was reminded of an old training session I ran on the importance of Bible teaching and leadership to the church.

To make that point I laid out the theme of shepherds and sheep and came up with a spin on the Two Ways to Live diagram which looked a bit like this:

two ways to graze

Working through that for a moment…                                         

      1.      God gave shepherds to his people Israel. Moses (M) and Aaron were shepherds who cared for the flock and taught them God’s ways. (Numbers 27:17, Psalm 77:20).
      2.      Moses’ prayer for the people was that Joshua and others would continue to serve as shepherds for the people so that they would not be “sheep without a shepherd.” Tragically the rest of Israel’s history is a crisis of leadership as they constantly find themselves with absentee or wicked shepherds who feed on the sheep rather feeding them. For their part the sheep wander and stray. (Isaiah 53:6, Jeremiah 10:21, 23:1, 50:6, Ezekiel 34:1-10, Zechariah 11)           
      3.      In light of this God promises to send a shepherd – a Davidic shepherd – and indeed to come himself to be the shepherd of his people. When he does the injured will be healed, the strays will be found. (Ezekiel 34, Isaiah 40:10-12, Jeremiah 31:10, Micah 2:12-13, 5:4-5).
      4.      Jesus comes as the shepherd, a Davidic shepherd king, God himself in fact, to rescue and gather the sheep, calling them by name and laying down his life for his sheep. (John 10, Hebrews 13:20, 1 Peter 2:25, Zechariah 13:7 as picked up by the gospels).

      5.      Until his return he has appointed under-shepherds who are to care for his sheep, to feed them and care for them with the same gentleness and care that Jesus does. He is the chief-shepherd, they are his sheep, but church elders serve under him to care for a feed the flock. (John 21:15-19, 1 Peter 5:1-4).
      6.      One day we will be with our chief shepherd. We will enjoy his provision fully and forever – pasture and protection and provision. The lamb at the centre of the throne will be our shepherd. (Rev 7:17).

Two things struck me afresh looking through that:

First: what an awesome responsibility and calling it is to be an under-shepherd. Shall we run through that line of succession again? Moses, Joshua, God himself in the person of the shepherd king Jesus, and then the local church elder.  

Second: the model for our pastoral care must be the true shepherd who gives his life for the sheep and not the false shepherds who feed off the sheep and use their power to pursue greed, to indulge their desires and satisfy their needs for attention and prestige and power.