Summary: Pastors and elders, as a central purpose of their office are to care for souls. If not, they fail to obey God (1Pe 5:1-2, Acts 20:28), to the great detriment of the church. The goal of the elders and pastors of a church should be to see families and each


We know it by the abbreviated title: The Reformed Pastor. Originally it was -

Gildas Salvianus: The Reformed Pastor, showing the nature of the Pastoral work; especially in Private Instruction and Catechizing; with an open CONFESSION of our too open SINS: Prepared for a Day of Humiliation kept at Worcester, December 4, 1655, by the Ministers of that County, who subscribed the Agreement for Catechizing and Personal Instruction at their entrance upon that work, By their unworthy fellow Servant, Richard Baxter, Teacher of the Church at Kederminster.’

After being ordained in Worcester Cathedral, he became a pastor at Kidderminster from 1640-1660. While at Kidderminster, Baxter was God’s instrument to promote revival. J.I. Packer states he converted "just about the whole town." Five galleries had to be erected in the church to hold the people and Baxter’s own testimony is, "On the Lord’s days there was no disorder to be seen in the streets, but you might hear a hundred families singing psalms and repeating sermons as you passed through the streets. In a word, when I came thither first, there was about one family in a street that worshipped God and called on his name. When I came away there were some streets where there was not more than one family in the side of a street that did not so."

With an assistant, Baxter systematically catechised an average of fourteen families per week, teaching people in their own homes, by question and answer, the basic teachings of Scripture. He strove to cover all the 800 families in his parish in one year. This became a model method in England and nearly 100 years later his influence in Kidderminster was felt by the eminent Methodist preacher, George Whitefield who stated, "I was greatly refreshed to find what a sweet savour of good Mr. Baxter’s doctrine works and discipline remain to this day."

C. H. Spurgeon commented, "I remember when I used to awake in the morning [as a child], the first thing I took up was Alleine’s Alarm or Baxter’s Call to the Unconverted. Oh, those books, those books! I read and devoured them."

Preaching Calendar -

TODAY: Shepherding the Flock

Next Week: The Great Shepherd of the Flock

Palm Sunday


Exposition through Acts


1 Peter 5:1 The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed:

2 Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly;

3 nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock;

4 and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.

5 Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for "God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble."

6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time,

7 casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.

OUTLINE - Here is a "Structure for Listening"

Shepherding: The context of the call to Shepherd

Shepherding: The chief occupation of Shepherds

Shepherding: The conscious response of the Flock

1) Shepherding: The context of the call to Shepherd > Suffering

Consider the overview of 1 Peter:

I. Salutation 1:1-2

II. Suffering and the certainty of future inheritance 1:3-12

III. Suffering and personal life 1:13-2:10

IV. Suffering and social and domestic life 2:11-3:12

V. Faith and right conduct and suffering 3:13-4:6

VI. Right conduct in the light of the end 4:7-19

VII. Suffering and right relationship between elders and the congregation 5:1-11

VIII. Conclusion 5:12-14

Regarding suffering and adversity, Horace, the Roman Poet said, "Adversity has the effect of eliciting talents, which in prosperous circumstances would have lain dormant." This is kind of virtue is recognized by unbelievers too, e.g., Thomas Paine: "I love those who can smile in trouble, who can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. ’Tis the business of little minds to shrink, but they whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves their conduct, will pursue their principles unto death."

This is true in the case of church leadership.

2) Shepherding: The chief occupation of Shepherds


My translation: Therefore, I appeal to elders among you, (as) the fellow-elder and witness of sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker in the glory to be revealed;

Remember Peter, who learned this from Jesus, John 21:16 He said to him again a second time, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?" He said to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love You." He said to him, "Tend My sheep."

Peter was a witness - Acts 3:15 ". . . and killed the Prince of life, whom God raised from the dead, of which we are witnesses."

Matthew Henry has a good word on Peter’s position:

How different the spirit and behaviour of Peter were from that of his pretended successors! He does not command and domineer, but exhort. He does not claim sovereignty over all pastors and churches, nor style himself prince of the apostles, vicar of Christ, or head of the church, but values himself upon being an elder. All the apostles were elders, though every elder was not an apostle. (from Matthew Henry’s Commentary)

My translation, v 2: "You all shepherd the flock of God among you, overseeing [bishoping], not unwillingly, but willingly, not covetously, but earnestly."

The noun "pastor" or "shepherd" only occurs once in the New Testament in reference to the leaders of the church (Eph. 4:11). But the verb "to shepherd" occurs several times. It occurs here in verse 2, "Shepherd the flock of God." Jesus uses it when he says to Peter, "Shepherd by sheep" (John 21:16). And Paul uses it when he says to the Ephesian elders, "Shepherd the church of God which he purchased with his own blood" (Acts 20:28). So elders were the shepherds of the flock, the pastors (just another word for shepherd).

Bishoping - Overseeing

Other uses

As a Participle: NAS Hebrews 12:15 See to [ episkopouo] it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled;

As a Noun: NAS Philippians 1:1 Paul and Timothy, bond-servants of Christ Jesus, to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, including the overseers and deacons: NAS 1 Timothy 3:2 An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach,

NKJ 1 Peter 2:25 For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

Shepherding - What is It?

Acts 20:28 "Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.

Biblical Examples of Shepherding:

Paul in Acts 20: 16 For Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus, so that he would not have to spend time in Asia; for he was hurrying to be at Jerusalem, if possible, on the Day of Pentecost.

17 From Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called for the elders of the church.

18 And when they had come to him, he said to them: "You know, from the first day that I came to Asia, in what manner I always lived among you,

19 "serving the Lord with all humility, with many tears and trials which happened to me by the plotting of the Jews;

20 "how I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house,

21 "testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.

Baxter’s words are sobering: "Many have warned others that they come not to that place of torment, while yet they hastened to it themselves: many a preacher is now in hell, who hath a hundred times called upon his hearers to use the utmost care and diligence to escape it. Can any reasonable man imagine that God should save men for offering salvation to others, while they refuse it themselves; and for telling others those truths which they themselves neglect and abuse? Many a tailor goes in rags, that maketh costly clothes for others; and many a cook scarcely licks his fingers, when he hath dressed for others the most costly dishes. Believe it, brethren, God never saved any man for being a preacher, nor because he was an able preacher; but because he was a justified, sanctified man, and consequently faithful in his Master’s work. Take heed, therefore, to ourselves first, that you he that which you persuade your hearers to be, and believe that which you persuade them to believe, and heartily entertain that Savior whom you offer to them."

Elders provide, protect, supervise, discipline, instruct and direct.

The Westminster Directory says, "It is the duty of the minister not only to teach the people committed to his charge in public, but privately, and particularly to admonish, exhort, reprove, and comfort them upon all seasonable occasions, so far as his time, strength, and personal safety will permit. He is to admonish them in time of health to prepare for death. And for that purpose, they are often to confer with their minister about the estate of their souls..."

How is the Elder to Approach His Responsibility?

NOT Covetously: or not greedy for gain - works against shepherding. There have been many who have sought to blackmail the church by money, to have elders overlook serious sin.

Lenski said, "Shepherd should not be little popes or petty tyrants.""

QUOTE - Power corrupts, and ultimate power corrupts ultimately.

My translation: "Not as (those) lording it over your allotted (portioned) ones, but becoming models of the flock; ’

NRS Matthew 20:25 But Jesus called them to him and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them.

On Membership - note here that we cannot give an account without "a count." Membership is presupposed. I encourage those who have not committed to membership to do so, in accordance with all good biblical church order.

My translation, v 4, "And (when) appearing the arch-Shepherd you will be rewarded the crown of glory."


as overseers



not lording it over

as examples

Result: receive the crown of glory

One more comment by Baxter on Insufficiency of those who minister in this way: "Our whole work must be carried on under a deep sense of our own insufficiency, and of our entire dependence on Christ. We must go for light, and life, and strength to him who sends us on the work. And when we feel our own faith weak, and our hearts dull, and unsuitable to so great a work as we have to do, we must have recourse to him, and say, ’’Lord, wilt thou send me with such an unbelieving heart to persuade others to believe? Must I daily plead with sinners about everlasting life and everlasting death, and have no more belief or feeling of these weighty things myself? O, send me not naked and unprovided to the work; but, as thou commandest me to do it, furnish me with a spirit suitable thereto.’’ Prayer must carry on our work as well as preaching: he preacheth not heartily to his people, that prayeth not earnestly for them. If we prevail not with God to give them faith and repentance, we shall never prevail with them to believe and repent. When our own hearts are so far out of order, and theirs so far out of order, if we prevail not with God to mend and help them, we are like to make but unsuccessful work."

3) Shepherding: The conscious response of the Flock


to one another

clothed with humility

casting all cares on Him

Result: God may exalt you.

What are the limits to submission?

5 Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for "God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble."

6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time,

7 casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.

8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.

9 Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.

10 But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.

11 To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

"But we request of you, brethren, that you appreciate those who diligently labor among you, and have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction, and that you esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Live in peace with one another" (1Th 5:12-13)

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. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.

In summary,

Modern church leaders have often neglected the duties of overseeing the spiritual welfare of individuals and families. Sadly, biblical pastoral oversight is set aside for more promising programs. Instead, programs, facilities, and finances are impersonally managed the way businesses manage their resources. Of course if pastors and elders fail to care for souls, they fail to obey God (1Pe 5:1-2, Acts 20:28), to the great detriment of the church. The goal of the elders and pastors of a church should be to see families and each individual grow to maturity to the glory of God. All of the ministries of a church are to become tools in the hands of skillful craftsmen who correctly diagnose the spiritual needs of individuals and families. By this, the fruit of each life can produce a great harvest in the kingdom of God. It must be the serious concern of the church to see continually "good discipline and the stability of your faith in Christ" (Col 2:5).

It is not only elders and pastors who have responsibilities, members have the duty to follow (Heb 13:17) and appreciate their leaders. "But we request of you, brethren, that you appreciate those who diligently labor among you, and have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction, and that you esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Live in peace with one another" (1Th 5:12-13, Heb 13:17).

Let us earnestly pray in this foundational time for All Saints’ Presbyterian Church that the Lord may be pleased to grant a solid foundation of pastoral ministry. That the elders may regularly visit the homes for edification, care and communication. To this end I have developed a Visitation Schedule that will be available today and next week so that all the families can schedule just such a visit.

(Shepherding Hymn) I WILL YIELD

Text: Gregg Stawbridge Tune: May the Mind of Christ My Savior









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