GOD’S PLAN FOR SHEPHERDING HIS PEOPLE

February 04, 2022

GOD’S PLAN FOR SHEPHERDING HIS PEOPLE


Everyone needs to be pastored. We all need godly leaders who will give us instruction, tender care, gracious reproof when needed, and wise counsel along the way.

God knows we need this. It is not a human invention at all. And when Christ established the church, he designed a structure that would give us “pastors and teachers to equip the saints,” so we could grow up into the “measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-13).

But notice it is not to be merely one shepherd. It’s plural. There are multiple reasons for this. As churches grow, one man cannot possibly shepherd the whole flock. And God knows that a multiplicity of leaders provides safety, varied giftings, and multiplied wisdom.

AN EARLY EXAMPLE

It was the beginning days of the establishment of a new nation in Exodus 18. Moses was clearly God's leader, but he was the one, primary counselor and judge. He was doing it all alone.

When people live together there is always a lot of conflict and questions. One man cannot handle the judgment of all these issues. Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro, saw this and that it was bad for Moses and bad for the people. And he proposed a new structure.

      17  Moses’ father-in-law said to him, “The thing that you are doing is not good.
         18  “You will surely wear out, both yourself and these people who are with you, for the task is too heavy for you; you cannot do it alone.
         19  “Now listen to me: I will give you counsel, and God be with you. You be the people’s representative before God, and you bring the disputes to God,
         20  then teach them the statutes and the laws and make known to them the way in which they are to walk and the work they are to do.
         21  “Furthermore, you shall select out of all the people able men who fear God, men of truth, those who hate dishonest gain; and you shall place these over them as leaders of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties and of tens.
         22  “Let them judge the people at all times; and let it be that every major dispute they will bring to you, but every minor dispute they themselves will judge. So, it will be easier for you, and they will bear the burden with you.
         23  “If you do this thing and God so commands you, then you will be able to endure, and all these people also will go to their place in peace.”
 

One of the most wonderful things about this account is Jethro's willingness to confront his son-in-law intentionally ("the thing that you are doing is not good") and Moses' willingness to listen to his counsel.

The result was a plan of delegation that spread the leadership around. But this responsibility was not delegated to just anyone. Everything depended upon the character of these leaders (as it always does). When Christ instituted Deacons in Acts 6, the primary qualifications were godliness and character. The non-negotiable requirements for Elders in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 are found in a list of 22 character qualities. The qualifications for these leaders in Moses’ day are found in verse 21:

1. Able men
2. Who fear God
3. Men of truth
4. Who hate dishonest gain

 

These men were put in charge of tens, fifties, hundreds, and thousands and judged the people at all times. They brought the major disputes to Moses, but handled everything else on a lower level. The result of this wise, delegated shepherding plan, led by a plurality of leaders, was peace among the people.

God has devised the same plan for His church, a plurality of godly Elders who will lead and shepherd the flock. Wise is the church that embraces this plan. The men who are so used will be rewarded and blessed and the flock will be well cared for and live in peace.

 

 





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