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A few days ago I asked “Do We Care for the Sheep or Do We Use the Sheep?,” and expressed concern that pastors may be prone to neglect caring for the people in their churches in favor of using the people in their churches to fulfill personal ambition. The pastor’s calling is to care for God’s own church, to labor on behalf of God to care for what God loves most. But how? How does the pastor heed this call? Paul says in Acts 20:28 that pastors must “Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock.” The pastor cares for the flock by paying careful attention to himself and to them.
The order matters. Before the pastor can do anything else, he has to keep watch over himself. He has to model everything he calls his church to, to be an exemplar of mature Christian character. He needs to be vigilant over his own heart, his own mind, his own life. When we see pastors fall away from the faith through false doctrine or shipwreck their ministries through immoral lives, we can have confidence that in every case it’s because they failed to keep a close watch over themselves.
Shepherd - Sheep - Pasture - Water - Harm
A shepherd doesn’t only lead his sheep to pasture and water, but also watches them to guard them from all harm.
The pastor who is keeping watch over himself is equipped and qualified to also keep watch over God’s people. In this passage Paul refers to the pastor as an “overseer.” A shepherd doesn’t only lead his sheep to pasture and water, but also watches them to guard them from all harm. In a similar way, a pastor doesn’t just offer his people spiritual sustenance, but also spiritual care and protection. This means the pastor is to keep alert, to serve as...
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