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Summary: A look at God's complaints about Israel's shepherds and what that means for pastors today.

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OUTLINE:

The Pastor Is God’s Representative, Right? There are a lot of Biblical references where God is displeased with pastors.

- Jeremiah 3:15; Jeremiah 23:1-4; Ezekiel 34:1-31; Matthew 23:1-39.

What A Good Shepherd Looks Like:

1. The focus is on the sheep, not the pastor.

- Ezekiel 34:2-3; John 10:11-15.

2. They do their best to find lost sheep.

- Jeremiah 23:4; Luke 15:1-7.

3. They stay diligent to keep sheep from getting separated from the flock.

- Jeremiah 23:2, 3; Ezekiel 34:5-6.

4. They care for the sheep’s wounds.

- Jeremiah 23:2, 4; Ezekiel 34:4.

FULL TEXT:

The Pastor Is God’s Representative, Right? There are a lot of Biblical references where God is displeased with pastors.

- Jeremiah 3:15; Jeremiah 23:1-4; Ezekiel 34:1-31; Matthew 23:1-39.

- We tend to presume that pastors know what they’re talking about.

- Why?

a. They’re the experts.

b. There is general illiteracy of the Bible.

c. This is an issue that takes quite a bit of spiritual maturity to discern.

d. This is a big issue to get wrong.

- Jeremiah 23:1 – A woe on the shepherds.

- This is an amazing statement.

- Here we have the people that everyone presumes are God’s representative and God’s word to them is “Woe!”

- This could be individual or collective.

a. Individual.

- Sometimes it’s a single pastor that’s creating the trouble and it has to do with his idiosyncrasies.

- Maybe his real motive is power. Maybe his real love is attention. Maybe his real goal is building a personal empire.

b. Collective.

- Sometimes the system as a whole has become corrupt, but those within it have failed to discern it behind the small changes.

- Today there are things that almost no one questions, but which may be off.

- For instance, why do we spend so much on pastor salary and buildings? Or, the lack of discussion about repentance and obedience within many evangelicals’ salvation messages is another red flag.

- Pastors (and religious leaders generally) are not judged like everyone else.

- They are judged more strictly.

- James 3:1; Hebrews 13:17.

- “. . . we who teach will be judged more strictly.”/ “. . . as men who must give an account.”

- Why is that? A couple reasons:

a. They have the capacity to do disproportionate good or harm.

- When you have a good pastor, he has the capacity to impact a lot of people for Christ relatively quickly. The privilege of standing before a congregation to preach God’s Word can impact a lot of in a short time.

- Conversely, when you have a bad pastor, he can damage the name of Christ widely. His negative influence can touch a lot of people quickly. His story of unfaithfulness spreads more widely than an everyday person.

b. They are God’s representative to people.

- When they fail in that duty, it’s not just their reputation that in harmed – God’s name is as well.

- As we’ve said a lot in starting NewPoint, we’ve found that there are a lot of people out there who have given up on church because they’ve had a bad experience with a pastor.

- If it’s true in the OT and the NT, what are the odds that it’s true today as well?

- If we are not seeing the outcome that God said to expect, is that a sign that we’ve led the people off-track?

- Obviously, God is still faithful.

- Sometimes the issue is that the people are unwilling to be led.

- Often, the issue is that the shepherds are not leading the people well.

- Jeremiah 3:15 – What God wants to reinstate.

- God wants shepherds after His own heart.

- I want to look at four things that entails. These ideas are culled from these passages where the Bible shares what God thinks a good shepherd should look like.

What A Good Shepherd Looks Like:

1. The focus is on the sheep, not the pastor.

- Ezekiel 34:2-3; John 10:11-15.

- Is the main job of the pastor to “run the church” or to be a spiritual mentor?

- Most churches have defined the job as running the church: attend meetings, visit the sick, come up with an ambitious but inoffensive vision, make sure all the behind-the-scenes stuff is flowing smoothly.

- What they’re looking for is someone to care for their organization and “make the trains run on time.” They don’t mean this as a negative thing – they think it’s the job a pastor should do.

- The problem is that the time spent “running a church” requires necessitates that people are ignored. We’ve come to a place today where most people, beyond listening to him share the Sunday sermon, have no expectations of personal contact from their pastor. There is no thought of spiritual mentoring or that the goal of the church should be having a bunch of mature Christians, not a well-oiled organization.

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