I must be honest with you, writing this article is uncomfortable for me, for it has to do with the work of an elder; also known as shepherd, overseer or pastor. It is a God ordained role that has tremendous rewards and responsibilities. This reality is penned in these words found in Hebrews 13:17, “Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls.as those who must give account.” Unfortunately, time and tradition has in many ways blurred our understanding of this biblical role. So, what exactly is the work of a shepherd?
Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made
you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.
Acts 20:28, NIV
The apostle Paul has gathered the Ephesian elders together and exhorts them with these words. This idea to “keep watch” (take heed, NKJV) speaks to the idea of caring for and providing for. Couple this with the idea of being “shepherds”; which means to feed, to tend to a flock, keep sheep and thus, contextually speaks of governing God’s church, we speak of a very important task. The shepherd’s task is, in part, “the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ: that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting…” (Ephesians 4:12-14). Another aspect of the shepherd’s role. much like one who watches over sheep, is that of protection. This is why one of the qualities of a godly shepherd is that he hold “fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict” (Titus 1:9). This idea of protection is seen in Acts 20:29, right after he exhorted the Ephesians elders. We read, “For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock.” Even from among the eldership “men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them” (Acts 20:30).
Your shepherds here at Biddeford, although imperfect, wish to do our best to fulfill God’s design for His church by doing what we can to serve all of you. We invite you to journey with us as we seek to grow in our understanding of God’s design and strive to do His will.
Finally, as the author of this article and one of the shepherds here at Biddeford, I am humbled by the task the Lord have given the elders of His church: The church “he bought with his own blood.” We are no ordinary people! We have been purchased by the blood of the Lamb. We are “His own special people” (1st Peter 2:9).