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On the Priority of Shepherds

May 19, 2019

 

“If it is a priority to God, then it should be a priority of His people. It should be a priority to Christians, both individually and collectively.”  - Do you believe those statements to be true?

 

Whenever I was 15 years-old I likely did not think that having shepherds was a priority that the church would have. I grew up in a church that had shepherds, but the first two churches that I worked with as a full-time evangelist did not have shepherds. While things went well in those works, and they were at peace, it's obvious to me that there was still something lacking. Even as late as 10 years ago I didn't properly understand the priority that the scriptures give to churches having shepherds.

 

So many churches throughout the land are functioning without the leadership of shepherds, perhaps so much so that I thought that it must be okay. That it was an acceptable norm. The truth is, I simply didn't think about it enough. I didn't think about it like I should. Because when I stop and think about it, and when I devote the time to studying the scriptures on the topic, the truth is clear and evident, -  Church leadership, Shepherds, is absolutely and definitely a priority in the first century Church.

 

Churches were not encouraged to remain in a state without elders. Two preachers are addressed in the New Testament canon (Titus and Timothy) and both are given instruction about their duty in teaching churches to have scriptural leadership. In Titus, it says that he was specifically left in Crete for that very task - “For this reason I left you in Crete, that you would set in order what remains and appoint elders in every city as I directed you…” (Titus 1:5) It is the first issue in the letter and stated purpose of his mission.  Doesn’t that communicate/demonstrate priority?

 

When churches were established in the book of Acts we see a priority given to making sure that the maturation of that church included proper scriptural leadership. In Acts 11:30 we see that the church in Jerusalem had elders.  As Paul are Barnabas were strengthening the churches that had been established on their journey they appointed shepherds at those congregations (Acts 14:23).  It appears that in the time that Paul was at Ephesus he helped in establishing the church, and helping it to mature to possess shepherds within 2 years. (Acts 19:10; 20:17) The continuation of that leadership we see as part of Timothy’s duty as well in what Paul wrote to him at Ephesus. (I Tim. 3:1-15) It’s difficult to deny with honesty that scriptural leadership isn’t a priority God established in the church through the teaching of the Apostles and scripture.

 

“If it is a priority to God, then it should be a priority of His people. It should be a priority to Christians, both individually and collectively.”  - Do you believe those statements to be true?

 

If you believe them as a shepherd in the church, then won’t you be committed to the work of nurturing the next generation to aspire this office of leadership? (I Tim. 3:1)

 

If you believe them as a preacher in the church, then won’t you be committed to the work of consistently instilling this priority in the hearts of the church members? (I Tim. 3:15)

 

If you believe them as a male member in the church, then won’t you be committed to doing all you can to grow in the faith to be a shepherd, or support others to that end?

 

If you believe them as a female member in the church, then won’t you be committed to instilling the desire and virtues of leadership in the next generation of men?

 

If you believe them as a young person in the church, then won’t you be committed to making the priority of God a priority of your life in Christian service?

 

May we so believe, and so act, to honor the will of God always… and in all ways.

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