You know, the Word of God is truly amazing! It’s a shame that most believers, Super Pastors included, don’t read it, study it and listen to what it says. As a result, what we build and “do” as church doesn’t accurately represent God to the world. You can look back at the initial post on this topic for further insight!
So, here it is. Let’s see what the Word says as we delve further into the biblical pastor role.
Therefore, 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, 2 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; 3 nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock. 4 And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. (1 Peter 5)
There’s quite a bit of ground to cover here, so I am going to be quick in referencing things without much explanation. I really am not trying to convince you that I am “right” on this topic; I just want us to be “righteous” or in correct standing with God on the matter. I am just trying to get you to think beyond what you have previously known in the Super Pastor System and be open to the possibility that God’s mind on the issue might be a bit different.
As a fellow elder, Peter is exhorting “the elders” to function accurately. Here are some quick hits. Notice:
- The term “elders” here is plural…..not singular. There was no single man called Pastor over all the church members and, especially, not over a religious organization. Actually, in the New Testament scriptures, Presbyter (elder), pastor (poimen) and bishop (episkopos) are all terms used interchangeably to refer to the individuals who shared in this ministry to the Body.
- The multiple elders are located “among” or “in the midst of” the members of the Body. They aren’t tucked away in a secured office somewhere, where you don’t have access to them. You don’t just see them on a Sunday morning standing on the platform, elevated above everybody else and the center of attention. You know, it is the whole Positional Authority vs. Relational Authority thing.
- Peter exhorts them to “shepherd” (poimaino) the sheep. It is a function………not a title! Some versions have “feed” the sheep. So, Super Pastor takes that to mean that he feeds the sheep up on the platform every Sun……….. you know how it works by now! The word means much, much, much, much more than just using a teaching gift to expound scripture.
- The next encouragement is to “exercise oversight”. This does not mean to cast a vision for or make all the decisions regarding a religious institution. It does not mean to tell people what to do. The word is “episkopeo” (bishop) which, remember, is interchangeable with pastor/elder. The emphasis is not on a different function but, rather, on the attitude and motivation of doing the same function. He’s telling them not to be forced (as in hiring someone to do something) but to perform the function voluntarily because it is the will of God. Don’t do the job because you are eager to get a paycheck but because you have a love and eagerness to bless God’s sheep.
- Peter’s final exhortation is for shepherds not to “lord it over those in his charge”. It is interesting that the same word (katakyrieuo) used here is also used by Jesus over in Matthew 20:25. You should flip over there and read that interaction Jesus had with his disciples. Basically, true shepherds are not to treat their sheep as subjects, bring them under their power or subdue them in any way. True shepherds serve as “an example” to the flock,which literally means “a figure formed by a blow or being smitten.” So, true shepherds serve, minister and lay their lives down for the sheep and reveal the nature of the Great Shepherd.
According to the Eastern custom, there were large affiliations of shepherds who were all subject to a Chief Shepherd. As Chief Shepherd, He would parse out to each under-shepherd the amount of sheep He thought each under-shepherd could handle in an appropriate, effective manner. (so much for “pastoring” thousands) The under-shepherd then became responsible to care/tend for the sheep given to his care and, ultimately, was accountable to the Chief Shepherd. The sheep were NOT possessions of the under-shepherds sheep. They still belonged to the Chief Shepherd!
As we have already acknowledged, Jesus is the Chief Shepherd. The sheep are His. This is why it is imperative that the sheep are handled according to His nature and according to His grace. We have to truly consider if we have God’s thoughts on this matter because if we do not have His thoughts, we will simply not have His ways!
In Acts 20, the Apostle Paul is being led by the Spirit of God to Rome. It was made known to him that he would be taken there, held in captivity and eventually be martyred for the faith. On his way towards Rome, he sends a messenger from Miletus to the elders (plural) of the Ephesian church (God’s people/not a religious organization) to come and see him for the final time.
It is an amazing passage of scripture. It contains a striking depth of relationship and love between an apostle and those he equipped to be elders in the Body. This was the last time he was EVER going to see them. So, you know what he said to them had to be pretty important. Paul makes an astounding statement in the midst of his final discourse to them!
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. I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them.
I added the emphasis on the one part because, in my opinion, it is the most important part.
God has purchased His people by a costly, precious price. It is critical to keep in mind that the Great Shepherd is also the Lamb of God!
And, Paul is warning the shepherds of God’s flock to be on guard for themselves and for the flock for a very specific reason. Even from among those precious brothers who had been discipled and equipped by the great Apostle Paul, there would be men who exalted themselves and would say things for the intention of drawing people to themselves!
God’s people, the Great Shepherd’s sheep do not belong to a man to be used for any purpose or intention. If the calling of under-shepherd is upon the life of an individual, that person is accountable to the Great Shepherd and will have to give account for the manner in which the sheep allotted to his care were handled.
Again, the importance of the Shepherding Grace of Christ flowing and functioning according to God’s thoughts cannot be over emphasized! It is only God’s means/methods that will accomplish God’s purposes.