Jump Starts Daily

Jump Start #3208

Jump Start # 3208

1 Peter 5:4 “And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.”

  In our verse today, Peter identifies Jesus as the Chief Shepherd. Christ is the head. He is the cornerstone. He is the first and the last. All of those powerful terms illustrate that Jesus is the leader. He doesn’t not have a vice-president or a second in command. The will of Christ must be our will. What I want and how I feel about things must submit to what the Lord says. He is the Chief Shepherd.

  Most of that is fairly straight forward and easy to understand. The difficulty that often surfaces in many congregations is the interaction of elders or shepherds among themselves. Sometimes there can be some maneuvering, much like horses on a race track, to get into what is believed to be the number one position. A head elder can surface and through pressure and intimidation, he actually runs the church. The other shepherds quietly become “yes men” to him. Unless the head elder wants something, every idea is shot down and dismissed. What is done is what he wants done. After a while, the other shepherds are fearful of opposing him, so they go along with things that they do not feel is right, but who dares challenge the head elder? 

  Understand, there is only ONE chief shepherd and that is Jesus. The role of a “head elder,” or, “senior shepherd,” is not Biblical. Sometimes it gradually happens, but it should not be allowed.

  One becomes the head elder often because he has served the longest. It is thought of as a right of passage. The number of decades serving has made his vision, the only vision and his voice, the only voice. It is wonderful to have men capably serving a long time, but that does not mean they take over.

  Other times, men who run their own companies or are executives where they work, carry that over into the eldership and feel that they can continue to do those things among fellow shepherds. What happens in the business world ought not to impact the way God wants the church to be led.

  And, obviously, one becomes the head elder because he desires that. He wants to boss the others. He believes that only his ideas matter. And, because of that, his attitude and willingness to cooperate with others actually shows that he is not qualified and no longer has the qualities of a godly leader.

  How are shepherds supposed to get along with each other? Some have been doing this for a long time. Others are new to this. Different personalities. Different visions. Different backgrounds. Putting all of that in a pot and stirring it about can make some tense and difficult meetings. Some get so discouraged that they quit. Younger men seeing all of this, quickly decide that they want no part in serving as a future shepherd. It’s not good for the church when shepherds don’t mix and gel together.

  First, humility and respect for each other must fill the atmosphere. No one is better than any other among the shepherds. Equal is the key word. When new shepherds are appointed, they should not feel like junior elders or be afraid to speak up. The new ones are just as qualified as the seasoned ones are. Every shepherd ought to have a voice at the table and every one ought to be listened to with dignity, respect and love.

  Second, the big picture must always be before us. Keeping Jesus  and His word at the forefront will help ideas, visions and decisions to remain Biblical and true. But, then remembering the people you serve will also help shepherds to remember the young sheep, the new sheep, the struggling sheep and the troubled sheep. Shepherding is about helping people. It’s about making the church stronger and better. The role of elders is not about power, positon or control. Those that do not understand that have no business being appointed in the leadership role.

  Third, there are times when differences will take place. There may be discussions that get heated. Listening to one another, looking in the Scriptures and thinking things through is not only necessary but is essential. Sometimes a “come to Jesus” talk has to happen when one forgets what his role and purpose is. When there is transparency, respect and love among each other, the shepherds will leave a room as one voice. And, that is essential. Just as in parenting, if a child goes to mom and gets one answer, and the runs to dad and gets a different answer, he’ll quickly find out his favorite and use it to his advantage. However, when mom and dad are on the same page and say the same thing, the child will understand. The same works among the elders. If they are saying different things, the members will pick up on that and they will find the one that agrees with them. Therefore, to keep that from happening, things must be discussed, talked through, until all the shepherds are on the same page. One voice. One mind. One purpose.

  Fourth, it might help to bring in an outside voice to help get all the shepherds on the same page. There are several wonderful brethren who truly understand Biblical shepherding. Set up a time for one of these men to come over on a Saturday and spend the day discussing the roles and ways shepherds can operate as God designed them. This doesn’t have to be a Gospel meeting with the whole church. Bring someone over just for one day, just to help the shepherds.

  I would also add, the closer the shepherds can get to one another the better. Go out to eat together with the wives and get to know each other better. Go to a ball game together. Do some things socially, without talking about matters that are in the church. Draw closer to each other. As you do this, the discussions and meetings will go much smoother.

  As the church sees unity, respect and love among the leaders, it will be much easier for the members to follow that example. Just like home, the kids can tell when mom and dad are not getting along. It makes things stressful and tense. The same happens in the church. Do all that you can to build bridges and be the source of peace.

  There is one Chief Shepherd, and that is Jesus.