Texts That Terrify

Some passages of Scripture terrify (or at least they should) believers across the board.

For example, Matthew 12:36 warns, On the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak. If that doesn’t flat out scare you given the difficulties attached to taming the tongue (see James 3), I don’t know what will.

Other verses raise the hair on special interest heads only, like Hebrews 13:17.

Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.

The church elder/pastor whose knees don’t knock at the prospect of giving an account to the Chief Shepherd (1 Pet. 4:1-4) at the last judgment for the quality of his watch care over the souls allotted to his charge best resign his office to trifle with lesser responsibilities.

Reading Timothy Witmer’s excellent book The Shepherd Leader: Achieving Effective Shepherding in Your Church recently reminded me of this sanctified terror shared by me and my fellow elders at Orlando Grace.

For this reason and others our elders and deacons opted to tackle this theologically sound and ecclesiologically practical resource in preparation for our annual leadership team retreat next weekend. Lord willing we will gather for a Friday night and Saturday morning to discuss Witmer’s book and evaluate our ministry of shepherding at OGC in light of it.

Witmer reveals his thesis early on in the introduction:

The simple thesis of this book is, “The fundamental responsibility of church leaders is to shepherd God’s flock.” After all, the word “pastor” comes from the Latin word meaning “shepherd.” However . . . shepherding is not merely the responsibility of those who are called to be pastors but also of those who are called to be elders or its equivalent in our churches. In fact . . . “shepherding” is at the very heart of the biblical picture of leadership. Unfortunately, this emphasis is missing in many churches (p. 2).

Thankfully, it’s not missing in our church. But could we do it better? Absolutely. Hence our desire to invest significant hours together next weekend to evaluate ourselves in light of biblical standards.

Will you pray for us that we hear God’s voice as to the action steps He desires for us to take to shepherd better the flock for which Jesus died at Orlando Grace?

After all, getting better at shepherding not only will make things go better for us at the judgment, if I read the rest of Hebrews 13:17 correctly.

It will result in great advantage to you, the sheep, as well.

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