Sunday Sermon: ‘Shepherding’

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Today marks a big day for many of us. Today we officially welcome Pastor Zack and his family as a part of Twin Oaks Baptist Church. Today marks a big change for Twin Oaks. None of us ever thought a few years ago that one day our church would need to hire an assistant pastor. I know that I certainly didn’t. Yet the Lord has shown me that I was wrong. Today begins a whole new chapter for this church. And today is also an important day for me personally. Today marks the seven year anniversary of me being your pastor.

Look with me at Ephesians 4 –

Ephesians 4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting [training] of the saints, for the work [performance] of the ministry [serving], for the edifying [building up] of the body of Christ:

Christ has given to the church leaders who have the responsibility of training others how to serve the body of Christ can become mature and spiritual strong.

13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect [mature] man, unto the measure of the stature [level] of the fulness [completeness] of Christ.

I. Shepherding

A. The Spiritual Need For Shepherding

The title ‘pastor’ is found only twice in the KJV; yet the concept is throughout scripture. Both times the word ‘pastor’ is used in the Bible, it signifies someone who is a spiritual shepherd. We know that Christians are often referred to as sheep and the church as a flock. Therefore,it seems only natural that the Lord would provide shepherds to help watch over His sheep.

B. The Spiritual Gift of Shepherding

‘Shepherding’ is one of the spiritual gifts spoken of in various places in the New Testament. Larry Gilbert describes it as someone who as a desire to see others learn and grow. There are other gifts like mercy, giving, helping, and encouragement which are very similar, but many feel that the gift of shepherding focuses primarily on the spiritual maturing of others. That seems to go along with how Paul describes these individuals as ‘pastor / teachers’ who have been called to help develop the spiritual maturity of the church so that the work of the ministry might be fulfilled in all of its completeness.

C. The Spiritual Office of Shepherding

There may be many in the church who have been given the spiritual gift of shepherding, yet the Bible also teaches us that God has established a special role within His church which we often call – ‘Pastor.’ Notice what Peter has to say about this –

1 Peter 5:1 The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: 2 Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; 3 Neither as being lords ove God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. 4 And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.

Probably, if we got real technical about all of this, the title of the biblical position is Elder. The spiritual gift necessary to fulfill this office is ‘pastoring’ or ‘shepherding’. And the role this man is fulfilling is that of a Bishop which means to oversee or manage. Some denominations have Bishops and others have Elders. Most churches like Twin Oaks have Pastors. The title doesn’t matter just as long as the work is getting done. For me personally, I like the title Pastor because it comes from the Latin word which means to be a shepherd or spiritual guide. Several years ago, John MacArthur wrote a book on the calling and duties of a Pastor and he called his book – ‘Shepherdology’, A Master Plan for Church Leadership. I think that Pastor is a great title to help describe what God intended.

I’m not sure how you view the role of a pastor. Probably there are a lot of opinions due to some of your past experiences. A lot of people see a pastor as someone who mows his yard in a shirt and tie. I can say from my side of it that it’s a crazy position to be in. On the one hand you feel completely incapable and unworthy, yet you know that the Lord for some reason has chosen to use you. No one is more surprised than I am that today I am a pastor. I ran from the calling for a number years. Yet we read in John 15:16 ‘Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit …’ The prophet Jeremiah said, “…his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.” Many pastors I know are so because God’s calling upon them was so strong that they could not resist. Yet that doesn’t make them

The life verse for one of my friends who is a pastor is Ephesians 3:8 ‘Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.’

Today we officially welcome Pastor Zack and family to the ministry of Twin Oaks Baptist Church. We believe that God has called you to be one of his shepherds and we believe that He has called you to do so here at Twin Oaks. We pray that this will be a long and productive journey together.

At this point I would like to shift the focus a little bit. I would like to share with Pastor Zack some spiritual nuggets that other pastors have shared with me and that help guide me as one of His shepherds.

II. Spiritual Nuggets That Help Guide Me as a Pastor

If I’m not mistaken, Pastor Zack is 36 years old. I know of another 36 year old dad who several years ago began a similar journey. He took his young family to the far country in order to try to become a pastor. His last name is Covey. I still remember that first morning I pulled up at Lima Baptist Temple as the new guy. I had on a new outfit and was scared to death. “Do I know enough? Can I do this? What in the world am I doing here? Where am I?” As I had told Pastor Cannon, “You can hire a lot of men more capable than myself, but you can’t hire someone with more of a desire.”

Lesson #1 – “If you think that you have messed up, you be the first one to tell the Pastor”

A seasoned pastor who had built a great church gave me that bit of advice. I never forgot it and I often had to practice it. More than once I had to go in to Pastor Cannon’s office and explain something that had happened. Sometimes I was at fault, other times I wasn’t. Nevertheless, he always heard it first from me.

That may sound like some silly advice, but the truth is – you’re not perfect and we’re not perfect. I am reminded a story I once heard. A young pastor was about to preach his first message in a new church and wanted to make a good first impression. Before he began to preach, he politely asked if the church had a ladder so that he could change a light bulb in the bathroom. Yet no sooner had the words come out of his mouth that a little white haired lady in the back stood up and shook her cane at him and exclaimed – “Change! What do you mean?” Thankfully Twin Oaks is not that kind of a church. Yet there is the real possibility for a disagreement to come up some time. That’s life. Let me share a few verses with you and our church family.

1 Tim 5:19 Do not receive an accusation against an elder except from two or three witnesses.

Pastor Zack has spent the last three years working with and on a church staff. I spent eleven years doing so in Ohio and so we both know that sometimes there can be people who want to play one staff person against the other. We discussed this during his interview process and we both agree that this is not how God wants us to handle any kind of conflict. I’m in support of him and he is in support of me and if someone has a disagreement with either of us, according to the Bible, the first step is for that individual to talk with us one on one. Let me also say, if someone comes to me concerning a decision Pastor Zack has made, I owe it to him to call in him and the three of us discuss it together. That’s God’s way of doing it and that’s what God will bless.

Here are a couple of other verses I would like to share-

Ephesians 4:32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

James 1:19-20 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak , slow to wrath: For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.

Lesson #2 – “What does the Bible have to say …?”

The same pastor who gave me that first bit of advice, built his ministry around this second principle. ‘What does the Bible have to say?’ Though personal opinions have a lot of influence upon how we act and think, at the end of the day we’re all going to stand accountable according to what God says in His Word. That’s why it is so important that we study so that we can rightly divide the word of truth. It’s the truth that will set us free.

Lesson # 3 – ‘Toughen your hide while you soften your heart’

Pastor Cannon used to tell me that quite often. It’s important because the opposite comes more natural. It’s much easier to develop a hard heart because we have a soft hide. Yet if we’re going to be used by God, we have to toughen our hide while we soften our heart. The older I get the more I value the word ‘maturity.’ Great pastors and spiritual leaders have to develop a lot of maturity.

Lesson # 4 – ‘Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.’ (Lk 14:11)

Twice in the Bible we read that God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. Your ministry will be a composite of what you have seen in other pastors. One of the greatest pastors I have ever known was a very humble man.

Having been here a number of years, I can tell you that these are good people. They’re hard-working people. And they are humble people. That was one of the characteristics that we looked for as we were searching for a pastor and that was one of the characteristics we saw in you during the interview process.

Seven years ago I preached my first message here as their pastor. I preached about Solomon when he was given the duty to follow his father, David, as king. In my message I asked the people to pray three things for me:

1. Pray for the wisdom to know God’s will

2. Pray for the boldness to do God’s will

3. Pray for the humility to remain in God’s will

Lesson # 5 – He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much (Lk 16:1)

I believe that there is something missing in modern-day Christianity and that is servanthood. You and Rebekah shared with Tammy and myself how that many of your fellow students were looking for that big opportunity. Yet how different that is from the mindset of men like the Apostle Paul.

Lesson # 6 – Walk slowly through the crowd

I fail in this quite often. I’m a choleric by nature and sometimes I come down with the Martha Syndrome. You know the story I’m sure. Jesus had come to spend some time in  the home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus. Martha got all flustered in the kitchen while Mary was sitting at the feet of Jesus. Finally in exasperation she exclaimed –

“Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? Bid her therefore that she help me.” To which Jesus replied – “Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” (Lk 10)

Which brings me to my last lesson –

Lesson # 7 – People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care

It’s not about numbers or buildings or reputations. It’s about people, God’s people. These people are God’s people and they want to be your friends. And they will do their very best to take good care of you and your family. They want you to laugh with them and to cry with them. They want you to care. They want you to be their shepherd and I believe that’s what you want as well.

1 Corinthians 13
If I could speak in any language in heaven or on earth but didn’t love others,
I would only be making meaningless noise like a loud gong or a clanging cymbal.
If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I knew all the mysteries of the future and knew everything about everything,
but didn’t love others, what good would I be?
And if I had the gift of faith so that I could speak to a mountain and make it move,
without love I would be no good to anybody.
If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it;
but if I didn’t love others, I would be of no value whatsoever.

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud  or rude.
Love does not demand its own way.
Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged.
It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.
Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

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