The church belongs to God. He purchased it with the blood of his own Son (Acts 20:28). It is valuable to him, and it is a great privilege and honor to shepherd such a valuable group of people. The imagery also communicates that people need leadership. They need shepherds. They are dependent on mature elders to feed, protect, guide and move them forward. If the elders don’t do their job, the church is in serious trouble.
This is the standard that God sets for his servants. He wants willing elders, not forced elders to serve his people. If an elder does not serve willingly and freely, he will not last. The problems and pressures of eldership are too great. Also, he will do a poor job. He will certainly not be effective in caring for God’s people. The people will see that such an elder is reluctant and forced to serve.
He loves to shepherd people. He works hard. He gives many hours of his time. He gives of his own finances. He does this with gladness and joy. He goes beyond minimal duty. He is not concerned with what material gain he can receive.
One of the major characteristics of sheep is that they are dependent upon the shepherd for their very existence. In what ways are God’s people dependent upon the elders for their spiritual protection and growth? List as many ideas as you can.
In what subtle ways can elders misappropriate the church’s funds, or be guilty of shameful gain from the church?
Read pp. 97-98 of Biblical Eldership, noting especially the quote by J. I. Packer on p. 97. Discuss these pages with your fellow elders.