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THE WORK OF ELDERS (2)

What Shepherding Involves

Victor M. Eskew

 

INTRODUCTION

 

A.    The religious world is sadly confused about the term “pastor.”

1.      Everywhere I go, those in the denominational world refer to me as a “pastor.”

2.      They believe that the preacher is the pastor of the flock.

3.      This is not the case.

 

B.      The term “pastor” is only found one time in the New Testament (Eph. 4:11).

 

And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers.

 

1.      Paul is definitely speaking about offices or positions in the body of Christ.

2.      Note:  He makes a distinction between an evangelist and a pastor.

3.      Pastor defined:  (the Greek word is “poimen”)

a.      Strong (4166):  a shepherd

b.      Thayer:  herdsman, especially a shepherd

c.       Vine:  a shepherd, one who tends flocks or herds

 

C.     In Acts 20, we learn that elders are the ones who are responsible for shepherding the flock, not the preacher.

1.      In Acts 20:17, Paul calls for the elders of the church at Ephesus to meet with him at Miletus.

2.      In Acts 20:28, he refers to these same men as overseers.

3.      In Acts 20:28, he also tells them “to feed the church of God.”

a.      The word “feed” is the Greek word “poimaino.”

b.      It is a form of the word “poimen” found in Ephesians 4:11.

c.       Definition of the word:

1)      Strong (4165):  to tend as a shepherd

2)      Thayer:  to feed, to tend a flock, to keep sheep

3)      Vine:  to act as a shepherd

d.      The responsibility here is greater than just “feeding” the flock.  It involves all that is involved in taking care of a sheep.

e.       Peter also placed this responsibility on elders in I Peter 5:1-2.

 

The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed:  Feed the flock of God which is among you…

 

D.    Elders are to tend the flock.  They are to take care of the members of the local church over the which they have oversight.

1.      Their task of shepherding involves more than just feeding the flock.

2.      In this lesson, we will examine five responsibilities of shepherds (elders) of the local congregation.

 

I.                   KNOW THEIR SHEEP

 

A.    In John 10, Jesus discusses shepherding.  One of the obligations of the shepherd that he mentions is to “know” the sheep.”

B.      John 10:14

 

I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep…

 

1.      Know:  to perceive, understand, have knowledge of

2.      II Timothy 2:19a

 

Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his…

 

3.      Jesus knows who is part of His flock and who is not

Jesus knows each one of the sheep in his fold.

Jesus is intimately acquainted with every sheep, even the wayward.

 

C.     Elders must “know” their sheep.

1.      They must know who is and who is not part of their flock.

2.      They must know each one of the sheep in their flock.

a.      This will require conversations will all members.

b.      This will involve in-home visit with members.

c.       This will require listening and asking the right questions to acquire knowledge.

d.      NOTE:  They are not omniscient like the Lord is.

1)      Thus, their knowing the sheep will be more difficult.

2)      Too, some sheep will not allow them to get to know them as well.

 

D.    Their knowledge of the sheep will allow them to take care of each person in their flock more effectively.

 

II.                GUIDE THE SHEEP

 

A.    There are several passages that teach that a shepherd is to guide the sheep.

1.      John 10:4

 

And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him:  for they know his voice.

 

a.      His own sheep:  the shepherd has a particular group he is responsible for

b.      He goeth before them:  he is the leader

c.       The sheep follow him:  he is the guide to the sheep

2.      Psalm 23:1-3

 

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.  He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:  he leadeth me beside the still waters.  He restoreth my soul:  he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

 

B.      Without guidance, sheep do one of two things:

1.      They go nowhere.

2.      They go everywhere.

 

C.     The shepherd guides them in many ways:

1.      He guides their studies

2.      He guides their growth.

3.      He guides their labors in the kingdom (not completely, but to some extent).

4.      He guides them away from dangers and to safety.

 

D.    Ultimately, he is attempting to guide them to heaven itself.

 

E.      NOTE:  Some sheep are not easily guided. 

1.      This is not how it is supposed to be (Heb. 13:17).

 

Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves:  for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief:  for that is unprofitable for you.

 

2.      These are the sheep that often have to be sought after by the shepherd. 

a.      He finds the lost and brings it home (Luke 15:4-5).

b.      He locates the wounded, brings it back to the fold, and nurtures it back to health (Isa. 63:9; Ezek. 34:16).

c.       He finds the distracted and ignorant sheep and redirects him to the fold (Isa. 53:6).

 

F.      This is an extremely difficult job for the shepherd.  It requires a lot of focused attention on each individual sheep.  Various things can come up in their lives that cause the sheep to drift from the fold.

 

III.             FEED THE SHEEP

 

A.    The shepherd would lead the sheep to green pastures where they could eat to their heart’s desire. When no pasture was available, he had to provide them with hay, green chop, or various types of grains.

 

B.      If they were not fed the right thing:

1.      Their growth could be stunted.

2.      Their production would be halted.

3.      They could grow extremely sick.

4.      They would not be valuable at market.

5.      They could eventually die.

 

C.     Elders are exhorted to the feed the flock of God (Acts 20:28; I Pet. 5:1-2).

 

D.    That which is to be fed to the flock is the Word of God.

1.      It produces faith (Rom. 10:17).

2.      It brings growth (I Pet. 2:2).

3.      It nourishes the soul (Acts 20:32).

4.      It enables one to produce (Ps. 1:2-3).

 

E.      NOTE:  If the elders are responsible for feeding the sheep, they must set aside periods of time for this to be done.  Sheep listen up!  Eating is not optional!  Eating is required. 

1.      The elders will be judged on how well they fed.

2.      The sheep will be judged on how well they ate.

 

IV.             CARE FOR THE SHEEP

 

A.    There are all kinds of things that can happen to sheep.

1.      They can get hurt by wild animals.

2.      They can get hurt on dangerous paths.

3.      There are sicknesses and diseases they can acquire.

4.      They can be afflicted with bugs and parasites.

 

B.      James 5:14-15

 

Is any sick among you?  Let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.  And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.

 

1.      If brethren are sick today, they call the preacher to say a prayer.

2.      If brethren are sick, elders allow the preacher to go in their stead.

3.      The elders are the shepherds.  They are the ones required to care for the flock.

 

C.     The responsibility of the shepherd is to care for the sheep.  To nurse, them back to good health.

1.      This is an intimate job.

2.      This is a tedious job.

3.      This is a time-consuming job.

4.      This is a taxing job.

5.      This is a long-term job.

6.      It is a thankless job.

 

D.    Caring for the flock requires:

1.      Compassion

2.      Time

3.      Knowledge

4.      Understanding

5.      Patience

6.      Sacrifice

 

V.                PROTECT THE SHEEP

 

A.    David was a shepherd.  He knew the shepherd was required to protect the sheep (See I Sam. 17:34-35).

 

And David said unto Saul, Thy servant kept his father’s sheep, and there came a lion, and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock.  And I went out after him, and smote him, and delivered it out of his mouth:  and when he arose against me, I caught him by his beard, and smote him, and slew him.

 

B.      Paul warned the elders of Ephesus about wolves that would arise to destroy the flock (Acts 20:29).

 

For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.

 

C.     Paul knew elders would have to protect the flock, thus he gave qualifications to this end (Tit. 1:9-11)

 

Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.  For there are many vain and unruly talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision:  whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake.

D.    There numerous qualities that elders must have to be able to protect the flock: 

1.      Knowledge

2.      Courage

3.      Stamina

4.      A will to fight

5.      Dressed in the gospel armor

 

CONCLUSION

 

A.    I have thought that it would be wonderful training if all elders had to go to a country where shepherding is still a big part of the culture.  Just think how much they would learn about shepherding if they could do this for a two or three year period.

 

B.      We will close with the words of Ezekiel to the shepherds of his day (Ezek. 34:7).

 

Therefore, ye shepherds, hear the word of the Lord.