As leaders we carry the responsibility of shepherds in the flock of God. A leader must understand the responsibilities of a shepherd. A shepherd’s responsibility is to lead, guard, tend, or guide as or in the manner of a shepherd of sheep in the natural. His goal is to raise healthy, fruitful, productive sheep. His primary goal is not to heal sheep, but he is trained, skilled, and sensitive to know what to do if a sheep in his flock is ill. A shepherd provides healing care for a sick sheep, but the ultimate goal is a healthy flock for the fulfillment of the purpose of the flock. If all of his sheep are sick and needy, he needs a new flock of sheep, so his or her purpose as a leader is to create and maintain a healthy, safe environment for each member of the flock. Healthy sheep create a healthy flock.
I believe that the purpose of every aspect of a local church expression is one of raising healthy sheep for the glory of God. Leading departments, facilitating activities, or producing works of ministry are never the primary goal of leadership in a congregation. Diversity of leadership is a testimony of the diversity of care needed to create a family of purpose for God. Leadership is an expression of pastoral care in some way. Anyone who takes on the responsibility of pastoral care (shepherd care) in the house of God must do so not merely to shepherd the people, but to serve the overseers in shepherding the people. All authority is under authority and all authority is a portion of life given for the sake of those they lead. Life is given in order to be given to others so that life can be given and received by everyone for the purpose of life. Leaders at various levels in a congregation represent God and they are shepherds (pastors) of the flock. All authority is under and not over. When responsibility is given to anyone over any area, their primary focus is to serve the authority that placed them in that responsibility. Received authority is received life for the sake of those they lead.
All leaders must receive the authority to fulfill their portion of shepherding the sheep. All pastoral anointing is under the overseeing shepherd’s anointing. All pastoral ministries represent the Chief Pastor (Shepherd), not the people.
There is a diversity of needs when caring for people. If sheep are in a flock are sick, they need a veterinarian, not just a pastor (a physician shepherd). This could be termed as specialized counseling or deliverance ministry. Those who care for specific needs of the sheep are not pastors, but they do serve the bigger picture of pastoring by helping to bring health to a specific area of the flock. The overall purpose is to serve the shepherd in his or her responsibility of producing a healthy flock of sheep.
A leader must lead as a shepherd. Pastors see to it that sheep are in the right place at the right time, out of the storm, and in the grassy fields of life. A pastor sometimes needs the advice of a dietitian, a veterinarian, a genetic breeding consultant, or some other specialist to assist in the task of raising healthy, fruitful, productive sheep. The task of shepherding is a team effort, but it involves a very close relationship with each sheep to know the condition of each one.
The destiny of a sheep is to provide for others. They provide a holy offering. This involves living in an intimate relationship with God in their lives. They provide food for life. The live for the wellbeing of others. They provide clothing for others to be protected from the cold. They produce generations of increased quality sheep for the future testimony of the flock.
Their primary responsibility of a sheep is not to receive fellowship, but to give their lives, and of their lives, for others. Sheep must be led into proper pastures of fellowship, however. Without a healthy sheep environment, they will be unhealthy sheep. Sheep see the social connection found in the fellowship; leaders see the purpose of the fellowship. A shepherd must love to fellowship sheep and to draw sheep to the Chief Shepherd (since he or she merely represents Him). A leader also serves to draw sheep to one another – this is called a flock.
A shepherd smells like sheep as well as a shepherd. If a shepherd doesn’t smell like sheep it means they don’t live among them. When Jesus used the analogy of sheep and a shepherd, it was in a time where shepherd’s gave their lives for the sheep and they also lived among the sheep to provide the daily care, protection, and direction needed by the flock.
1 Peter 5:1-4 The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed: shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by constraint but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.
A shepherd does not shepherd the flock for personal gain. He or she serves in the role of the shepherd for purpose of the Chief Shepherd and His desire for all of the members of the flock. It is an honor to serve in the role of leadership and to provide the care of a shepherd. It is an honor to serve in any area of leadership that serves the purpose of the Chief Shepherd as His role as the Shepherd is fulfilled through the diverse aspects of leadership. Leaders serve to keep the members of the flock connected to the place of God’s purpose and care!
1 Peter 2:25 For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
Food For Thought,
Ted J. Hanson