Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Shepherd's Conference: Leadership

I just returned from yet another amazing conference in L.A. hosted by Grace Community and the Master's Seminary. It is so refreshing to hear men like John MacArthur, Al Mohler, Phil Johnson, Steve Lawson and other great pastors and theologians "preach the word." If there was a theme, it was providential. Apparently there was no strategic plan in place to talk about anything specific. But when the topics made their way back into the committee and onto the agenda, the burning issue was clear: leadership. It seemed clear that almost to a man, leadership was of primary concern. Godly, loving, biblical leadership that cares for, guides, and protects the sheep. Acts 20 was covered more than once. The Pastoral Epistles and Peter were made use of repeatedly. If one wants to understand why the sheep are in the spiritual condition they are in, it became clear that one need look no further than leadership.

What is required to be a leader? Well, when you ask it that way, one thing is required: followers! Notice I did not say what is required to be a godly leader or even a good leader. There are all types of leaders in the world today. In fact, in Acts 20, Paul warned the Ephesian elders that ungodly leaders would rise up from among them. They will draw people after themselves. One thing is necessary to be a leader and only one thing: followers! Now the question that every leader needs to ask themselves is this: "Why should anyone want to follow me?" If you are a leader in the Christian community, you need to take your time and ponder that question. Why should anyone line up behind you and follow you? What is it about you that other believers, those who are purchased by God for God, should submit to your leadership? If you cannot answer this question, you should be able to. You need to stop what your doing and be honest with yourself about why people should follow you.

The one trait that continued to emerge at the Shepherd's conference was the love that all godly leaders possess for the sheep and more importantly, for their Lord. A shepherd LOVES his sheep so much that he is willing to lay his life down for them. Are you willing to lay your life down for those whom God has placed in your care? How many leaders can honestly say this? Some so-called leaders claim to love the sheep, but what they really love is themselves. They love their church, it's size, their status, their job, the recognition, the attention, the position, etc. What they do not really love is their sheep. They view some people as problems that must go away and then actually engage in activities specifically designed to that end. Godly shepherd's love the sheep. Their heart BREAKS into a million pieces when a sheep leaves. They do not want the sheep to leave. And they will do everything in their ability to keep that sheep in the fold, grazing on God's truth, protected from the enemies that would seek to tear it to shreds. Not all men who claim to be spiritual leaders have this kind of attitude.

The sheep belong to God. They are given to the care of the leader. The leader cannot pick and choose whom God places under their care. The godly shepherd does not seek to resign from shepherding God's sheep. He fully understands the weight and gravity of the duty and responsibility placed upon him by a holy God who will certainly hold him to a higher standard. But the shepherd's heart is tender. It is soft, and kind. This is not to say that shepherd's are perfect. They are sinners like the rest of us. No more, no less. But the godly shepherd has a heart for people. If you do not have a tender heart for the people God placed in your care, then as Phil Johnson would say, get out of the ministry and get out today.

The heartbeat of Christianity is love. There is no greater witness to the world that we are disciples of Christ than that we love one another. This love is nowhere more obvious than in the heart of godly shepherds. They love their Lord. They love His truth. And they love His sheep.

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