Summary: In selecting additional shepherds (elders) for our congregation, we need to be aware of the way in which the Lord leads his people. Psalm 23 gives us insight into the compassionate leadership of Jesus.
1. Knowing the Shepherd
A famous actor was once the guest of honor at a social gathering where he received many requests to recite favorite excerpts from various literary works. An old preacher who happened to be there asked the actor to recite the twenty-third Psalm. The actor agreed on the condition that the preacher would also recite it. The actor's recitation was beautifully intoned with great dramatic emphasis for which he received lengthy applause. The preacher's voice was rough and broken from many years of preaching, and his diction was anything but polished. But when he finished there was not a dry eye in the room. When someone asked the actor what made the difference, he replied "I know the psalm, but he knows the Shepherd."
2. Today we begin a three-part series on Selecting Shepherds for our congregation.
* We currently have three dedicated men caring for and leading this church as elders/shepherds
* We are seeking more men to help shepherd this flock
3. The term, "shepherds" has referred to the leaders of God's People
* Joshua was to be a shepherd of Israel -- Numbers 27.15-17
* Kings were referred to as shepherds
* God's Messiah was predicted to be Israel's Shepherd -- Ezekiel 34.23
* Ultimately, God Himself is the Shepherd of His people
4. We want our shepherds to imitate the LORD's shepherding of his people -- Psalm 23.1-6
I. Our Shepherds are to Rightly Lead the Congregation
A. Defining Leadership
* John Maxwell: "Leadership can be summed up in one word, influence."
* Political leaders influence -- Ronald Reagan; FDR
* Our society is starving for godly leadership -- 1 Peter 5.1-4
I recently read the story of some sheep that followed their own way.
Back in 2005, in Eastern Turkey, 1500 sheep from various flocks were gathered together in one pasture land. The shepherds were having breakfast nearby, but it seems nobody was actually "watching" the flock.
One of the sheep wandered off from the others, and fell over a nearby cliff to the rocks several feet below. The other sheep in the flock must have figured the first sheep knew where he was going and they all followed him to bottom of the ravine.
In a matter of a few moments, 400 of the sheep lay dead at the bottom of the cliff, and the rest had suffered serious injuries. The total loss was estimated to be around $74,000.
B. Leading Sheep
1. Sheep need to be led --
2. Shepherds lead the sheep in front of the flock during the day.
a. You must be willing to go where the shepherd (Jesus) calls you to go.
b. Even if it is difficult. There is only one path.
3. When it starts to get dark it changes. The shepherd starts to lead right in the middle of the flock.
a. The Lord leads me to green pastures; The Lord leads me to still waters;
b. Even though I walk through the valley of the darkest shadow; I will not be afraid, for the shepherd is in the flock with us. (Darkest shadow literal Hebrew)
c. Since every sheep can't see the shepherd to follow, they depend on the sheep in front of them. It is very important that you are following sheep that are following the shepherd so you don't make a wrong turn.
C. Sheep always follow the shepherd's voice
1. John 10:14-16: I am the good shepherd. I know my sheep and my sheep know me -- just as the Father knows me and I know the Father -- and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.
2. John 10:27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.
The following story comes from Julie Helms in Christian Reader, "Lite Fare":
My husband and I, with our two daughters, operate a small sheep farm. One day a non-farming friend asked, "How can you bear to slaughter those cute little lambs?"
My husband explained, "We don't want to get emotionally attached to the ones we plan to eat, so we don't give them names."
Not satisfied, the friend probed, "What about your kids?"
Her husband quickly replied, "Oh, we name them!"