Teaching Elder at Midway Warns Shepherds To Not Drive the Flock by Fear and Force

A timely message and warning to Midway elders and the people under their care…

“Shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory” (I Peter 5:1-4).

In a recent daily email devotional from the pastoral staff at Midway titled “Shepherding the Flock of God,” Teaching Elder Mic Knox explored I Peter and the manner in which shepherds are called to care for the flock of God. His brief message is below in full.

Will you join him in praying for your elders?

What is one way to humble yourself? Shepherd the flock. The word ‘shepherd’ means to govern, guide, and guard the flock. To govern the flock is to rule over it. Guiding the flock means to direct the flock’s path, and to guard the flock means protect it.

Where can we find a good example of a shepherd, who governs, guides and guards the flock? We need only look at Psalm 23. “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters” (Psalm 23.1-2). He governs and guides. What about guarding? “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me” (Psalm 23.4).

How should Elders not shepherd the flock? He says, “not under compulsion, . . . not for shameful gain (and) . . . not domineering over those in your charge.” Shepherds should not feel constrained as well as they should not shepherd for shameful monetary gain—nor to run people’s lives or run them off. To be sure, Elders “who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel” (1 Corinthians 9.14). Jesus said “for the laborer deserves his wages” (Luke 10.7) and “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain” (1 Timothy 5.18). Elders should be able to support their family, but not demand extreme excess.

Furthermore, shepherds are not cowboys. Shepherds do not drive the flock by fear and force. Shepherds lead by gently walking out in front of the sheep. What is the eighth fruit of the Spirit? Gentleness. The Shepherd gently carries the little lamb around his neck, speaking to the lamb and speaking to the flock.

Additionally, Peter might be juxtaposing Christ and the scribes and Pharisees. In Matthew 23, Jesus was teaching his disciples along with the crowd, and he spoke about how the scribes and Pharisees were negatively leading the people. He said: “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger” (Matthew 23.2-4). The scribes and Pharisees were domineering, but Peter said shepherds should be “examples to the flock.” They are “doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving themselves” (James 1.22).

It is hard work shepherding the flock, and the cross comes before the crown. Shepherds should humble themselves, get their hands dirty, “And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.” Do you see the gospel of Jesus Christ? Jesus wore a crown of thorns, so that we can wear a crown of glory and cast them at Jesus’ feet. Pray for your Elders.