“Nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.”
nor as being lords over
We come now to the third negative phrase that qualifies the leadership of a pastor — pastors should not become dictators over their congregations.
The phrase “being lords over” means becoming master, gaining dominion over, subduing with the implication of lording it over. God does not give the pastor the right to reign over his congregation. As we saw in previous studies, a pastor has the right to rule, but he does not have the right to lord his authority over his church, as a king would reign over an empire. The pastor is not to be in the business of wielding power and subduing his congregation by superior force.
“Being lords over” conveys the idea of a domineering or overbearing pastor who takes advantage of his people (cf. Matthew 20:25; Mark 10:42; Acts 19:16). The pastor is not to exercise lordship over his congregation. The words “lord over” imply ruling to one’s advantage in Mark 10:42 (Gentile rulers).
“And He said to them, ‘The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those who exercise authority over them are called ‘benefactors” (Luke 22:25).
Ezekiel warns of this kind of leader: “You have ruled them harshly and brutally. So they were scattered because there was no shepherd” (Ezekiel 34:4-5). Some leaders tyrannize their people by coercive means (Matthew 20:25-26; 2 Corinthians 1:24).
The people of a church are God’s flock and God’s heritage. The pastor should treat them accordingly. The pastor is simply the under-shepherd who cares for the flock of another.
“Not that we have dominion over your faith, but are fellow workers for your joy; for by faith you stand” (2 Corinthians 1:24).
A pastor who becomes a tyrant moves beyond his God-ordained authority. Diotrephes loved power; he operated with a high hand.
“I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to have the preeminence among them, does not receive us. Therefore, if I come, I will call to mind his deeds which he does, prating against us with malicious words. And not content with that, he himself does not receive the brethren, and forbids those who wish to, putting them out of the church” (3 John 1:9-10).
There are a properly exercised authority and a proper honor of that authority.
“And we urge you, brethren, to recognize those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. Be at peace among yourselves” (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13).
“Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine. For the Scripture says, ‘You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain,’ and, ‘The laborer is worthy of his wages’” (1 Timothy 5:17-18).
God does not want the pastor to bully his flock.
A pastor should not dominate his people. No pastor should abuse his authority. God wants him to be fair in the leadership of his flock. The issue here is whether the pastor is unjust and unfair in the use of his authority. Does he use his control out of a lust for power? No pastor should use his authority to express vindictiveness.
Every pastor faces two extremes, either he:
1) lets the congregation run over him
2) or bullies the congregation.
No pastor should fear his authority but “rule” because God wants him to rule. However, there is great danger in power, as we have seen by so many who have abused that power.