Elder/Pastor/Overseer Installation, May 14, 2014
1 Peter 5:1-4
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: 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; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.
Men, today you embark in the challenge of a lifetime. You have chosen to answer the call of desire and aspiration to be an under shepherd to the Chief Shepherd, Jesus.
I want to take four exhortations from 1 Peter 5:1-4 and speak them into your soul by the help of the Holy Spirit. My prayer has been that these words you hear today would never escape you, but wherever shepherding takes you they would follow.
As under shepherds we choose to enter the subversive war of taking back all of creation from the domain of darkness as officers of the Most High Sovereign, Jesus. The weapons of our warfare are not physical but they are spiritual and they tear down strongholds, things that set themselves up against the knowledge of God. As under shepherds, officers of the Chief Shepherd, the General, we lead the warriors of the General into the frontiers of taking back occupied territory. We do this as we have been instructed. The General has not left us without instruction. We have our instructions in the Manual, and today I want to give some of those instructions to you.
1. Shepherd what you have been given v. 2a
“Shepherd the flock of God that is among you…”
Avoid the “greener pasture” lie that causes lesser men to flee the war. All worthy endeavors are hard and will tax you to your limit. You will either quit now or you will quit later. I know because I have quit and found that the greener pasture is not really green at all. Rather, the discipline of the Lord awaits you.
We move only for missional purposes, never for self rescue or for ease. If life circumstances take you away, then that is missional and the intention is to spread the DNA not sit on what you know. If other missional opportunity arises, then we dare not stay. We Acts 13 it, and figure it out.
Shepherding is really just discipleship. Discipleship is not hard to understand. It is quite simply is hear the Lord and obey. Yet, the hard part is obedience. Shepherding will require you not hearing what the sheep want to do, but hearing the General and doing what he says. Sheep may always want to run out of the pen or simply not move to the actual food and water that will save their lives. Sometimes wolves are disguised as sheep. We don’t listen to them. We must not march to the drum of the sheep. We must march to the voice of the Chief Shepherd and obey his call.
2. Actively oversee v. 2b
“…exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly as God would have you;”
You can still bug out. No shame. Just know that our job is to stay on alert. The hardest part of leading is not doing. Leaders are by nature doers. The most difficult part is discerning the atmosphere.
The shepherd of sheep have to be aware of the smell of wolves or the sense that a sheep is straying or even eating something that would kill it, and be ready to head off the potential deadly intrusion.
You must learn to actively oversee with discernment. Take every moment to correct wrong thinking. It is better to over teach and instruct than to let a cancerous lie grow unchecked. In everything you do, teach. Teach in your service. Teach in your presence. Teach in your doing the dirty work. When other men are standing around, you do the task and set the pace.
3. Be an example v. 3
“…not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.”
Set the atmosphere with the love of God. Love the Lord with all of your being and your neighbor as yourself. Be present. Make the gathering a priority. Hebrews 10:25 it until it hurts. We’ve been doing it for 11 years. I never tire of being with the Lord’s people even if I feel an arrow coming my way. I feed on being ministered to because I need it.
Set the pace for the congregation to see. Never tire of doing good, for we will see fruit in due season.
4. Expect treasure in heaven v. 4
“And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.”
Don’t expect to be repaid for the monetary, physical and emotional expenditures in this life. The bottom line is that this life is given to expend for the taking back of the Kingdom from the domain of darkness, and if we lose our health and life in the process we do not lose. On the contrary we gain the whole world.
Know this, you will be hurt. Hurt comes with the desire to be an under shepherd of the Chief Shepherd. But note this: Father is sovereign over the flight of arrows, ask Ahab. Father is sovereign over Satan himself, ask Job. Father is sovereign over the goober that will do you injustice with their ill-timed words and off the mark criticism. But know this; all of this is part of the Father’s good plan to bless you with more of him. If we are not wounded we will never know what it is like to be healed. Is it possible that the Lord could graciously wound while sustaining? Ask Adoniram Judson, Hudson Taylor or William Carey!
Jamie Work wrote the words of A.W. Tozer in my installation journal August 8, 1999 and they go like this: “It is doubtful whether God will bless a man deeply until he has hurt a man deeply.” I read those words with bewilderment and resolve, and I never knew what those words would cost me until the price was paid. But the truth is that Job would go through his suffering again just to stand in the dust of God’s whirlwind as he spoke with the Lord and received his fatherly discipline. For Job had heard of him by the hearing of the ear but then his eye saw him (Job 42:5).
Pastoral ministry will hurt you, but that hurt is not outside the good and sovereign control of Genesis 50:20, “…you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good,…”, and the hurt will lead to the glorious healing of communing with the Father as he binds up those gracious wounds.
“He is not poor or much enticed who looses everything but Christ. It won’t be long before the rod becomes the tender kiss of God.” (Piper, The Misery of Job and the Mercy of God)
“Judge not the Lord by feeble sense but trust him for his grace. Behind a frowning providence he hides a smiling face.” (Cowper, God Moves in a Mysterious Way)
Congregation, this does not mean you have a right to hurt intentionally believing you are doing a pastor a favor. That is what wolves do. Take that on at your own risk. Jesus will even that score on his own, and I’m not sure I want to be on that side of justice.
Hebrews 13:7 is your charge, “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.”
Finally, a word to these precious wives: Default to having each other’s backs. Keep you tongue in check. Love each other, and always assume the best and good intentions. Be a haven for each other not a hurricane. Be a haven for your man. Be tough. Don’t always talk shop. Remember, the rough seasons will come, but they will also go. Watch out for the evil one and the lies he will propagate. The enemy may come at you before your man, so test your thoughts with discernment and prayer. Be completely suspicious of suspicious thoughts. Go with the flow and season of life. Don’t fight them. If it’s not fun and enjoyable, find what is and be ok with that. Don’t be pressured into leading a ministry. Your primary duty is wife and mom or grandmother. Be ok with who you are, for you are first Christ’s.