Okay, so since we are ending another chapter, I thought it would be good to explain that I am approaching this whole book as a Pastor—an elder, if you will, and I see many areas of direct application. As a Pastor, I must not only preach the word; I must practice the word. My example has a great deal to do with the credibility of my message. As they say, “I must walk the talk.” I must manifest humility and compassion for the sheep. As a Pastor, I must faithfully proclaim God’s Word. I must teach all of it. I must never minimize or compromise the Word of God. I am obligated to teach it publicly and privately. I am to wean people from dependence on me and point them to the sufficiency of Christ and His Word. I must not restrict the preaching of the gospel to certain racial groups; I must proclaim the gospel to everyone—but especially to those who hunger for the Truth. I must be on guard against attracting my own following by departing from the truths of God’s Word. I must be on guard against spiritual waywardness in my own life, as well as in others. I must be careful not to covet what belongs to others and not to make the acquisition of material things my goal.
This should set the standard for present and future Pastors—even those in your own church. What Paul described is what you should expect. This text should also serve as instruction in how you can pray for your Pastor the elders of your church and others.
Several years ago there was a popular phrase called, Shepherding. Although many can point to abuses along the Shepherding movement, the concept is still valid. I believe that as the term shepherd certainly applies to the church leaders the Spirit of God has appointed, so does the word father. In the Old Testament, spiritual leaders were sometimes spoken of as a father. We see this in Proverbs as well. Spiritual leadership can often be described in father-son terms:
You are witnesses, and so is God, as to how holy and righteous and blameless our conduct was toward you who believe. As you know, we treated each one of you as a father treats his own children —I Thessalonians 2:10-11
I am not writing these things to shame you, but to correct you as my dear children. For though you may have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, because I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. I encourage you, then, be imitators of me. For this reason, I have sent Timothy to you, who is my dear and faithful son in the Lord. He will remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach them everywhere in every church —I Corinthians 4:14-17
From Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to further the promise of life in Christ Jesus, to Timothy, my dear child. Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord! —II Timothy 1:1-2
Fathers have an elder-like role in the family. Indeed, one of the qualifications for an elder is that he has proven himself to be a leader of his own family:
He [an elder] must manage his own household well and keep his children in control without losing his dignity. But if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for the church of God? —I Timothy 3:4-5
I believe Acts 20 serves as a challenge to every father, to lead the family as an elder is to lead in the church.
A friend once told me about a conversation he had with a man who leads a successful prison ministry. He said that when they went into a particular prison on Mother’s Day, they took a good supply of Mother’s Day cards for the inmates so they could send a card to their mothers. Every card was taken. When they went into the prison on Father’s Day, they likewise came with a good supply of Father’s Day cards so the men could send a card to their fathers. Not one card was taken. How sad . . . May God use Paul’s words to the Ephesian elders to make us better leaders, beginning in our homes.
If interested, you can download the entire study of The Story of Acts