A congregation is only as good as the leadership. In the last three articles, we talked about the fact that we are all, in a sense, called to be leaders. We asked the question, “are YOU a leader?” We also talked about the structure of biblical leadership given to us in the Ephesians 4 passage. And we said that structure involves what we call deacons (ministry leaders). Today, we will talk about what it means to be a shepherd. What is their responsibility to the church family?
First, we need to talk about synonyms. Last week, we said that deacon comes from a Greek word meaning servant or minister. We usually call them ministry leaders. In a similar way, there are various words in the Bible that are all talking about what we think of when we think of “shepherds” or “elders.” Usually, the word used to describe these men is the Greek word “Presbuteros.” But it is also synonymous in Scripture with stewards, overseers, pastor, bishop, and as we call them, shepherds.
Some denominations call the “preacher” the pastor, and others call him the minister. Neither of those is technically consistent with the terms used in the New Testament. As we have discussed, a minister is a servant-leader/deacon and a pastor is a shepherd. We will talk more about what we mean by “preacher” next week. But for now, understand that the word “pastor” is technically meant for the shepherds.
What are the responsibilities of a shepherd according to the Bible? Elders are usually expected to preach or teach the church (1 Tim.5:17). A primary job of the shepherd is also to visit & pray for the sick (Jas. 5:14). They are to lead by example, not as a master or boss (1 Pet. 5:3). They should be the first to be hospitable (1 Tim. 3:2). They should educate themselves to know and defend the meat of the Gospel in the church and in public (Titus 1:9). They are to watch over our souls with joy, not grievously (Heb. 13:17). And they are to remember that Jesus is the boss; he is the chief elder (1 Pet. 5). They are not the “boss” of the preachers, nor are the preachers the boss of them. They are to work together and hold one another accountable. Christ is the authority! Take a moment and read 1 Peter 5:1-4. Next time, we will talk about preachers, who the Bible says they are, and what the Bible says their responsibilities should be. – Jesse