Summary: It is impossible to separate the message from the messengers. Our reflection of what is being said is influenced by who is saying it and how it is being said. Church leadership is important

On June 17, 2002 Federal authorities arrested a United States Forest Service employee for starting the largest fire in Colorado’s history. Terry Barton is a 38-year-old woman and had worked every summer for the Forest Service for 18 or 19 years. She had ventured into the forest to burn a letter from her estranged husband. She had evidently become angry with him and burning the note was perhaps her emotional release. Yet, because of dry conditions in the Pike National Forest, she was unable to extinguish the fire as quickly as she had desired and the fire burned out of control. At the time the fire began, Barton was under orders to patrol for fires in the vicinity where she had started the fire. This fire that was to be the largest in the state’s history burning over 130 homes with an estimated total cost of damage ranging anywhere from $27 million to almost $40 million dollars. In this strange juxtaposition of events, Terry Barton who was to prevent fires in the Colorado forest had now begun a fire.

It is impossible to separate the message from the messengers. Our reflection of what is being said is influenced by who is saying it and how it is being said. This isn’t just true for preachers of the Christian faith; it is universally true for all communicators no matter their message. Church leadership is important.

Today’s Scripture

“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. Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:1-5).

This is a text about how to shepherd a suffering church: “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you” (1 Peter 4:12). The word “therefore” or “so” in the ESV is important. Peter has just talked about judgment in chapter four. “For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God” (1 Peter 4:17)? As Peter contemplates the judgment that is coming upon the church, he thinks of the church’s leaders – the elders. He knows they are to be judged first. All throughout this small letter, 1 Peter, Peter has consistently called on the believers in modern day Turkey to possess two attitudes throughout their difficulties:

1) Humility toward others;

2) Be Bold in resisting evil.

This letter you remember (1:1) is written to churches in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bythinia. This is a huge and diverse area, and probably included dozens or hundreds of churches. The churches were spread over hundreds of thousands of square miles. Peter turns to address the leaders of the church of this vast region. Much of this church’s history after Peter’s letters is shrouded in mystery. Historians today know little of the stories of the church’s growth after Peter’s death. Yet, Peter’s words here are important. This area, now known as Turkey, became the cradle of Christian doctrine in the first four centuries. In a little more than 100 years, the churches in this area were flourishing.

Most churches rise and fall with the quality of leadership. This is especially true when the church is going through a time of stress and under attack. This is true of the church to which Peter writes. Yet, Peter’s instructions are timeless. Yet, leaders can’t lead without supportive people around them.

WHAT IS A PASTOR? A Pastor is a Biblically Qualified Leader who Shepherds the Church by Guarding, Leading, Feeding, and Caring for His Church.

1. What is the Function of Your Pastor?

1.1 A Pastor Guards

“Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish everyone with tears” (Acts 20:28-31)

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