“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.”
I Peter 5:1-4 (ESV)
“The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.”
I Timothy 3:1-7 (ESV)
Elders, shepherds, pastors, overseers, presbyters, bishops, whichever biblical name we use to describe these brothers, we are talking about an important part of God’s plan for the local church. The above verses tell us this role of guidance is reserved for mature men who have learned control and submission to God. They have demonstrated their ability by raising submissive children and managing their household well. They are men who are willing to teach and feed the sheep of the congregation.
Hebrews 13:17 says they are watching for our souls and will give account for them. They definitely have a great responsibility. As Peter said, they shepherd us, guiding and leading us on to heaven, feeding us with wisdom from God’s word. Sometimes they do this by teaching the entire congregation, sometimes by teaching classes, sometimes by mentoring individuals. Whatever the case, their job is ceaseless and we appreciate their sacrifice.
We are privileged to have the men below serving and leading us as our shepherds.