Faithful shepherds must follow the Chief Shepherd when ministering to Christ’s sheep. Jesus Christ, our perfect example in all things, set forth the goal that all leadership must strive for. Going to the gospels we can see that goal that Jesus Christ set. Especially, Jesus Christ revealed to His chosen shepherds how to serve Him in ministering to His sheep.
Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. John 5:19
Faithful shepherds will follow the example set by Jesus Christ as their Chief Shepherd and consciously strive to obey the will of God the Father as outlined in the Holy Scriptures, the Bible. They will know the Word of God through their own personal study and do what the Scriptures say, empowered by the Holy Spirit. They will believe that the Bible is the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God handed down to us in the Received Text. They will know the Bible by their own intensive study and will seek the illumination of the Holy Spirit rather than then relying upon the variant interpretation of men.
Jesus answered them and said, “My doctrine is not Mine, but His who sent Me. If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority. He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who seeks the glory of the One who sent Him is true, and no unrighteousness is in Him. John 7:16-18
Just like the Chief Shepherd, those called by God to serve Him by ministering to His sheep, will teach and promote the doctrine that is found in the Word of the Living God, the Bible. They will not promote teachings that have their origin in the unredeemed hearts and minds of men. They will study the Word of God, rightly dividing it to teach sound doctrine that will build up the beloved on their most holy faith.
“And if anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him-the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day. For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak. And I know that His command is everlasting life. Therefore, whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak.” John 12:47-50
The very words that Jesus spoke came from the Father. The words the Father gave to the Son are words of everlasting life. Jesus spoke these words on the authority of the Father. As faithful shepherds, those who minister to Christ’s sheep must teach the Word of God, the Bible, and teach the doctrine that accords with eternal life. They must not teach the doctrines of man, or even the doctrines of the law in relation to salvation and/or the spiritual growth of the believer. Faithful shepherds will always use the Word of God to point Christ’s sheep to the grace of God given to us in Jesus Christ using the Bible to expound the doctrine of salvation in Christ Jesus and godly living by obedient submission to God’s Word through the Holy Spirit. The Lord’s shepherds will follow His example of doing the works of the Father.
“If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him. John 10:37-38
“At that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in Me, and I in you. He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.” John 14:20-21
Jesus Christ came into the world to bear witness to the truth in word and deed; God’s faithful shepherds will bear witness to the truth by the faithful teaching of God’s Word and humble submission to obeying God’s Word in how they live and serve Him as they follow their Lord and Savior Christ Jesus.
Pilate therefore said to Him, “Are You a king then?” Jesus answered, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” John 18:37
Servants of the Living and True God are directed and guided by His truth in all that they say and do.
Just as Jesus Christ did the works of the Father because He was in the Father and the Father was in Him, God’s servants, His called shepherds will keep His commandments because they are indwelt by the Savior and they are in the Savior. Faithful shepherds will follow Christ and do the works that He did. They will show sacrificial love, they will obey the Father’s will as revealed in the Bible, they will trust the leading of the Holy Spirit in their daily lives. They will encourage Christ’s sheep to be like-minded in their reliance upon the Holy Spirit and the Bible, and their obedience to the Father. Faithful shepherds will follow the example of Christ presented in the Scriptures, just as Paul followed Christ.
Paul gave many exhortations to pastors in the Pastoral Epistles that express the heart of the Father for the leaders of His people. Throughout 1 Timothy Paul has a regular exhortation to his spiritual son Timothy. These exhortations center upon doctrine and godly living.
Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you. 1 Timothy 4:16
If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed. 1 Timothy 4:6
Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity. Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership. Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all. 1 Timothy 4:12-15
If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which accords with godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. From such withdraw yourself. 1 Timothy 6:3-5
O Timothy! Guard what was committed to your trust, avoiding the profane and idle babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge-by professing it some have strayed concerning the faith. Grace be with you. Amen. 1 Timothy 6:20-21
Faithful shepherds follow the example of their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ as they minister to His sheep. They guard their lives, embracing godliness and rejecting unrighteousness, and they hold fast to biblical doctrine which is used by God to build up His beloved children. They oppose false teaching and turn away from what is falsely called knowledge which always contradicts God’s Word. Financial gain is never their goal; their hearts’ desire is to serve the Lord Jesus Christ in ministering to His sheep. They exhort God’s beloved children to live godly lives which accords with the doctrine of faith and salvation found only in Jesus Christ. God’s faithful shepherds are called by Him to this task and rely upon His mercy, grace and love to lead them to live for Him and serve Him by the empowering of the Holy Spirit. If your pastor fails these simple tests then perhaps he is not called by God to minister to His sheep. Even worse, he could be an imposter set up by Satan. Since this affects your spiritual well-being and growth in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ you must ascertain whether or not your pastor is faithfully following Jesus in ministering to you. If he isn’t, then you must trust the Lord to lead you in your walk with Him, turn away from this false minister and seek leadership that honors Christ and blesses His people. May God bless us as we seek to honor and glorify Him.