THE FOUNDATION Before we look at becoming leaders we ought to do some study on what a leader is and does.

The world—business, political, church, and society—has many different types of leaders. Because we are focused on the Christian church we need to be looking at only one leader to find the foundation for what we are about. His name was Jesus. The Bible contains many references to him and we want to look at these before we begin looking at ourselves. As you work through this book some of these “pictures” will be repeated. In Psalm 23 we find a description of a shepherd from the Old Testament. As we look at this Psalm we find that the Chief Shepherd has some responsibilities. Psalms 23:1-6 ( NIV ) 1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, 3 he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. 4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,£ I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 6 Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. The shepherd here gives the sheep security, provision, rest/restoration, leadership, and protection. The shepherd provides an environment that is safe but not challenging. In all of his care for the sheep, the sheep still go through the “valley of the shadow of death,” they still experience discipline (“your rod and your staff comfort me”). They are found “in the presence of their enemies.” The key for us is the love that the shepherd has for his sheep. Jesus is the Good Shepherd and we are his sheep. The pastoral scene of the shepherd and his sheep is reflected in many places in the New Testament (Mt 25:32; Mk 14:27; Jn 10:11)

In Peter 5:1-5 the shepherd motif continues. 1 Peter 5:1-5 ( ESV ) 1 So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: 2 shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight,£ not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you;£ not for shameful gain, but eagerly; 3not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. 4And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. 5Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Peter is addressing the “elders” in the church. These are the primary leaders of the local congregation. (We will speak of them later.) Peter uses the image of the shepherd to pass on instruction to the elders of the church. Function as a shepherd. Do this willingly and watch out for them, which means not to focus on them but to keep your eyes moving around them to protect them from the enemy. This is done by example and not forcefully. Now he gives instructions to younger “shepherds” and tells them to be humble toward one another. We, as youngers, are to submit to the shepherds over us. (not blind obedience as we will see later.) It is interesting here that we are both the sheep and the shepherd, depending on our relationship with another person. Again in John 10: 11-18 we find more information about what it means to be a shepherd in the church (a leader by any other name). John 10:11-18 ( ESV ) 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. 17For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.” This passage of God’s Word starts out pretty extreme. Yes, it is referring to Jesus but there is a model that is found here for leaders in general. The sheep are most important. He knows them by name and he cares for them. Leadership (shepherding) is not something that can be done from some ivory tower. We need to know our sheep—those we are responsible for and for whom we care.

The early church used the term sheepdogs to refer to church pastors. This did honor to the Lord as shepherd and the “sheepdogs” as his servants. We certainly need to understand that we are not the CHIEF Shepherd or the Lord or God. Our task though is not quite the same as a sheepdogs. We are undershepherds. Leaders who take our authority and service from the Chief Shepherd. We must always remember that each person we care for only has one God and he is not us. The thing that using “sheepdog” does is keep us humble. It helps us to keep our eyes on the true shepherd and to point our “sheep” to the true shepherd. As we finish this chapter we need to understand that some of us are called to be pastors in a more formal or traditional way according to our gifting. That does not mean that the rest of us don’t have a responsibility to care for each other. As we read through the New Testament we find over and over the term “one another.” Regardless of your position God has called you and me to care for each other.

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