And now listen to me. I know that none of you will ever see me again. All the time I was with you, I told you the Good News about God’s kingdom. So today I can tell you one thing that I am sure of: God will not blame me if some of you are not saved. I can say this because I know that I told you everything that God wants you to know. Keep watch over yourselves and all the people God has given you. The Holy Spirit gave you the work of caring for this flock. You must be shepherds to the church of God the people he bought with his own blood. (Acts 20:25-28)
This week a man from our Bible study/small group shot himself in the head at the home of his ex-wife. The tragedy affected many. Our group leader, also an elder, stood with her outside her home after the police evacuated her, and he and other church leaders cared for her immediate needs. Our leader didn’t text our small group family the news of this tragedy—he took time to call each of us individually. I’m thankful for an elder who follows God’s word.
Paul was the leader of the Ephesian church but he couldn’t be anymore. The Holy Spirit urged him to go to Jerusalem. If he followed God’s will, the Spirit told him his life would end soon. So he groomed the Ephesian elders to take his place. He told them how to be good leaders. His directions apply not only to elders but to parents, grandparents, and teachers. Much of his instruction applies to any leader or manager.
- Tell your sheep everything God wants them to know so you will be blameless if they aren’t saved.
- Keep watch over yourselves. Pray for and monitor yourself. Jesus said, “If I do not the works of my Father, then don’t believe me.” (John 10:37) Unless you follow God’s will, you have no right to teach or tell others what to do. You must make those whom God has given you feel loved and cared for even when you’re disciplining them.
- Keep watch over the people God has given you. Pray for them. Speak to them in a loving way when they make a mistake.
- Work at caring for your flock. Caring takes time. Help them meet their goals and personal needs. Be approachable. Encourage.
- Be shepherds to the people God bought with His own blood. Guide them. Feed them God’s word. Be patient. Answer their questions.
Don’t be a leader or teacher if you can’t do those things. Followers, especially children, depend on their leaders to provide a safe haven.
Father, I praise You for giving me people to shepherd. Give me power and patience to love and help when they make mistakes. Tell me when I’m not loving or doing your works. Nudge me to encourage and guide with Your word. Help me bring my sheep closer to You. Thank you for my shepherds. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.