Our staff here at 3BC is continuing to read and discuss together the book by Tim Witmer, The Shepherd Leader. So far, it’s been an informative, readable book that not only addresses the historical and biblical foundations of shepherding, but gives practical suggestions, as well. If you’re a pastor, or even a deacon, I recommend you getting this book.
After laying some historical foundations to shepherding, Witmer closes out the first section of his book, The Shepherd Leader, with a few words regarding authority. He states,
It is important before moving on to what shepherds do that it is clearly understood that leaders have both the right and responsibility to exercise shepherding care.
In other words, church leaders have the authority, mandated by the Great Shepherd, to exercise care over their flock. Witmer says that God’s shepherds have “the right to act” ( the Greek word here is exousia) on behalf of the Good Shepherd. It’s God-given, and a responsibility that church leaders must accept full on.
Witmer makes 5 observations regarding authority as it relates to the shepherd-elder:
1. All human authority is derived. All authority belongs to God, who gives authority to the shepherd-elders.
2. The exercise of authority is designed to serve the well-being of those under its care. The authority of the shepherd-elder is “to do you good” (Romans 13:4) and for the well-being of the flock bought with Jesus’ own blood.
3. This authority is to be directed by God’s Word. The shepherd-elders are under the authority and direction of the Good Shepherd himself and must always be grounded in his Word.
4. All who hold derived authority are ultimately accountable to the One who gave that authority. Shepherd-elders “keep watch over you as men who must give account.” (Hebrews 13:17)
5. The flock is called to submit to the authority of the elders. Human authority is to be respected for the very reason that, ultimately, the authority is from the Lord.
The problem with all this is that we live in an age that does not respect authority. Witmer roots the problem in the ’60’s, and it flourishes in the moral relativism that is still with us today. Witmer states,
The deterioration of respect for authority in culture has its root in a failure to respect the sovereign lordship of the ultimate authority, the living God who is the Shepherd and authority of all of life.
In other words, the “sovereign authority of God has given way to the sovereign authority of the individual.”
Witmer moves from the first section into the second section prefaced by the question, “What’s a Shepherd to Do?”
This is the first chapter of practical application, and, it states the obvious…a shepherd knows the sheep. Modeled after the display of eternal within the Trinity, and based on the understanding that the foundation for all relationships is our relationship with the Lord, Witmer goes on to detail how shepherd-elders must not only know the flock as a whole (the congregation, what he calls the macro-knowing), but as individuals as well (the micro-knowing).
More to come…
1. Ever read the Bible and wondered where some of these places are they mention? Well, here’a link to a site called BibleMap.org…just type in the scripture reference and the locations appear with descriptions. Kind of a GPS-location thing.
2. You can forecast weather. Just a few things to know and you’ll be predicting the next day’s weather. Of course, you won’t have the ‘power of 5’, but I’ve not seen evidence that really helps a whole lot in forecasting weather!
3. What baseball team should I root for? Notice, if you have no soul, you’re a Yankees fan!
4. What God didn’t call you to do. He certainly didn’t call you to be me.
5. The 9 Ways Pitchers React to Giving Up Home Runs. I have to say, I’ve done all of these!