“Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly.”
Shepherd means to tend, cherish, herd, pastor with the implication of providing for the sheep. This Word carries the ideas of lead, rule, or guide.
The shepherd leads with the idea to guide and help the sheep. A shepherd protects, rules, governs, fosters protection, cares for, and nurtures. Jesus was a Shepherd (Matthew 2:6). Those who function as spiritual shepherds under him tend their flocks as under-shepherds (John 21:16; Acts 20:28).
“Shepherd” covers more than just feeding the flock; it includes all that involves tending. Everything that a shepherd does, the pastor does. This role entails the discipline of sheep who go astray, authority, restoration, material assistance, and feeding or nurturing. Shepherding is the spiritual care of God’s children. So shepherding involves all that falls to the shepherd’s lot to do for the sheep. “Shepherd” is translated as “rule” in the book of Revelation.
“He shall rule them with a rod of iron” (Revelation 2:27).
“She bore a male Child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron. And her Child was caught up to God and His throne” (Revelation 12:5).
“Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God” (Revelation 9:15).
The noun form of “shepherd” is “pastor.” Pastor means shepherd.
“And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers” (Ephesians 4:11).
the flock of God which is among you,
The “flock of God” is the church. Sheep are defenseless and liable to stray. Nero is about to send his legions, so pastors must go on a crash program to protect their flocks. Pastors must use both ends of their staff (rod). They need to care, and they need to discipline. The shepherd’s crook has two ends:
1) the hook end pulls sheep out of holes,
2) the pointed end pokes sheep in the right direction and away from spiritual danger or false doctrine
Although the church is God’s flock, God does not feed them directly. He uses pastors to do that. The congregation needs more than food; pastors must tend them as well.
A pastor’s role includes both tough and tender approaches.
God has one paramount, primary and indispensable directive to the pastor: “Feed the flock of God.” If the pastor is not feeding his people, then he is not doing the will of God. With some sheep, the pastor needs to be tender. They are mature believers who understand the importance of inculcating the Word into their lives. They have great reverence for the Word, and they appropriate the Word to their experience.
On the other hand, some sheep have hard heads. They operate on negative volition toward the Word, and they need discipline. Some sheep need more correction than sweetness because of their negativity toward the Word. If they become hostile to what God says, then the pastor with integrity will challenge them.
God does not require a leader to have a particular type of personality. In other words, personality is not an issue in leadership. People make a major mistake when they choose a pastor based on personality or qualities that they admire. Suppose someone prefers the quiet type, and someone else admires the noisy style. This choice is simply a matter of preference. There is no biblical standard in this process of choosing a pastor.
If a congregation chooses a mouse for a pastor, they will use him as a beanbag kicking him around until they get tired of him. In the New Testament, it was the leaders who did the kicking!! Under conditions of catastrophe, pastors must assert their authority more than they would in normal circumstances. Many pastors fear this. They are not willing to sacrifice their image of a “nice” person for the sake of their church. They are more concerned about acceptance by people than honoring their Lord.
Part of pastoring is feeding the sheep. Sheep cannot grow unless they ingest food. Teaching God’s Word is the source of their spiritual energy. Many sheep get indigestion from the Word because they have been feeding on poison. They cannot absorb good food because of their diet. False doctrine is toxic to spiritual health. Spiritual nutrition is preventive medicine. Today’s foods are so heavily refined and processed that they remove vast nutrients essential to general good health. Sermonettes create Christianettes!