Summary: Each of us are either a sheep or a shepherd. And some of us sheep and shepherds as well! Paul was a shepherd, and we can gain a good understanding of what a shepherd does by looking at his life.
Passage: Acts 20:1-12
Intro: We are used to the common Biblical concept of sheep and shepherds.
1. Jesus certainly referred to Himself as the “Good Shepherd”, and we as his sheep.
2. but he also appointed people to be shepherds after him, and others to be sheep.
3. but I believe that all of us over the age of 12 are called to be both sheep and shepherds.
4. and the only difference between shepherds is the size of our flock.
5. we have teachers here, and young people who help teachers. They shepherd children and adults.
6. we have parents, and there is no doubt that they have a little flock of at least one.
7. we have friends here, who mentor and encourage a flock of friends.
8. we have leaders here, whose flock tends to be larger and has more diverse needs.
9. we will look at this rather pedestrian passage of Scripture and find perhaps some good counsel for pastors and missionaries.
10. but I believe that passage is vital for all shepherds, and if you think about it, you will discover you do have a flock of sheep under your care.
11. so what characterizes the shepherding of Paul?
I. He was a Good Shepherd
1. the potential for abuse in Paul’s situation was huge.
2. he was immensely popular, a person of great influence among the Gentiles.
3. saw last week influence in Asia almost got him killed.
4. not shown in this passage specifically, but check over to 20:33
5. Paul was a servant, with the good of the flock his constant goal.
6. contrast that to the evil shepherds of the OT
7. as we have followed Paul through Acts, we have found a shepherd first and foremost concerned for his sheep.
8. the biblical picture of leaders is that they are servants of those they are called to lead.
9. this is the foundational difference between a good and bad shepherd.
II. He Was an Encourager
1. three times in these 12 verses, Paul is said to have encouraged the people.
2. Greek word is parakalew, the name Jesus gave the Holy Spirit.
3. it means “to come alongside”, so it is very personal, intimate.
4. the details of this encouragement are not recorded.
5. but we can assume it was to keep their eyes on Jesus, to remember that God is sovereign.
6. these people were not being left with in a nice, safe, environment.
Il) the believers in Ephesus had just witnessed a riot against their faith.
7. but there, and throughout Asia and Macedonia and Greece, Paul encouraged.
8. we could define encouragement as reminding someone of what is eternally true in the face of temporarily bad.
Il) every parent has the opportunity to do this very thing over and over as our children grow
9. each one of us can remember a person who encouraged us when we really needed it.
III. He Was a Teacher
1. in this “farewell tour”, Paul’s main task was teaching.
2. on his way from Asia to Macedonia, he taught in his encouraging way.
3. when he got to Greece, and specifically Corinth, he taught for three months.
4. and during his stay there, he taught the believers in Rome by way of writing the Epistle to the Romans.
5. that was always the mainstay of his ministry, wherever he went.
PP Romans 15:19b-20
6. the gospel burned so powerfully within him that he had a hard time ending on time.
7. v7, spoke until midnight
8. and after a brief but exciting interruption, went until daylight.
9. shepherds will teach their flock the word of God, whether it is our children or students or friends, whether the flock is big or little.
10. and this will be the priority, because the lies are all around us, and the truth is what sets us apart.
PP John 17:17
Il) one of my very greatest joys is to see people God has given me responsibility for live according to the truth.
IV. He Drew Others to Himself.
1. frankly, I’m not sure it was too easy to keep up with Paul.
2. a working relationship with him entailed hardship, danger, long days and sleepless nights, and a lot of traveling.
3. and yet look at v4, and this great list of names and places.
4. Paul traveled with the fruit of his ministry, Jews and Gentiles that had come to Christ through his ministry.
5. they clearly saw something in this man that caused them to leave the comforts of home to place themselves in danger, on purpose!
6. he did not draw people by promising them fame and fortune.
7. he lived a life of such purpose and significance that people were drawn to be a part of it.