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Pastor: One who Loves the People

Filed under: Leadership — Pastor David Jan 27, 2012 @ 8:13 pm

Pastor: One who Loves the People

“Every congregation needs a pastor’s love.” H. B. London

This title has such warmth in it. It is a privilege to hear someone in your church call you “pastor.” It is a tragedy it has been corrupted to be a mere title or refer to an authoritative position. It is not that in the Bible. It comes from the Hebrew word, “Ra’ah” meaning close friend and companion. That calls the leader to care about those under his carePsalm 23 has so many insights for caring for people, for it points to our great Shepherd Yahweh, whose leadership we are to represent (1 Peter 5:1-4). When we do this, we will receive the crown of glory given to us by the Lord Jesus, the Good Shepherd Himself.

How can we care like He cares? When our people walk through the valley of the shadow of death, they must sense our support, our presence, just as we know the very presence of Yahweh. This low valley is when we feel forsaken, abandoned, and forgotten. We cry out as David did in the Psalms, “Where are you Lord?” In the same way, we feel that about those who are in the church. Many times the ones we should be able to trust and lean on in difficult times, are the very ones who attack us, criticize us, misunderstand us, or deny us the love we desperately need. Like Job’s friends, they come to sit and mourn, then end up lecturing and condemning the very one to whom they should be listening. So the leader is key in this moment.  How is your leadership in times of crisis?

Notice this shepherd is listening to his sheep say, “You are with me.” Listening is one of the most important choices you make. I know we were taught in Bible School or seminary to teach, to speak, to instruct. But listening gives us more credibility than all the other things we may do. The sheep knows you are there. They know you support them, and are a channel of comfort. Our very physical presence is a great strength to those who suffer. Our calming voice assures them that we care, and says more than all the wise counsel we could give. Our listening ears are a must at such a time. Our prayers of love and support tell them we empathize. Our tears and sympathy speak loudly.

The sheep says, “Your rod and staff, they comfort me.” In the time of crisis our rod and staff are essential leadership tools. The rod is for keeping the sheep close to us, the staff for keeping potential enemies far from the sheep. How can you keep the sheep from wandering away? We keep them close by knowing their names, their pain, and their hearts. We keep them close when we touch them with our influence, our strength, and our help in times of trouble. We keep them close by listening to them and then encouraging them that God deeply cares and loves them. The rod corrects what is inside the sheep’s heart. It keeps them from running scared when everything seems out of control. Our leadership must be a stabilizing element that refocuses our people’s hearts on God’s wise and loving leadership and eternal purpose. We become a calming influence.

The staff is for those who oppose God and against those who creep in and seek to disrupt and discourage the very ones you are seeking to help. Drive the menacing voices away by rebuking them or warning them, and reminding them that this sheep belongs to the Lord. Some people like to be doomsayers and speak of the threatening judgments of God at such painful times. Why do they do this? They stir and agitate those who have troubled hearts. These threatening voices can be silenced by the reassurance of God’s promises and wise counsel. He loves that sheep, tell them so.  Satan has no hold, for they are held in the hands of one who will never let them go (John 10:28). Depressions, sadness, and a deep sense of meaninglessness can be dispelled by the bright hope in One who was crucified, then buried, and who victoriously rose from the dead. He has been there in that valley and will not forsake the sheep. Just read Romans 8:31-39 and rest under such love!

Caring for people is not easy work. But it is work we must do. It is in the place of difficulty that the sheep learn to respect your leadership more than at any other time. Please do not miss out on deepening your leadership at this crucial moment. This slows down everything, it seems, when we stop and care for one in the valley of the shadow of death. But this is where the gold is. This is where the bond grows deeply. This is when they call you “pastor” as a precious term of love and respect. Then you will “love them to greatness” (H.B. London).

Father, how can we represent You in the lives of our flocks? Help us to love them as You do, to be with them in trouble as You are with us. Help us to be a calming influence and a good listener. May your blessing increase on us and our people as we more and more represent you as our Shepherd, and our Pastor.

What is a Leader?

Filed under: Leadership — Pastor David Jan 18, 2012 @ 5:38 pm

“He that thinks he leads but has no one following him is just taking a walk.” ~Anonymous

If a leader does not have people following him he is not a leader at all. I know that is obvious, but think about it. A leader attracts people. A leader inspires people. A leader teaches people. A leader influences people.  His work is all about people. So if he does not love people or care about people or understand people he will not be an effective leader of them.

It is essential that the leader relates to people. This is what the Bible teaches in the title “pastor, shepherd.” The dictionaries define “pastor” as a person who is ordained to serve or one who has spiritual oversight of the members. This fails to capture the real essence of the word. Its focus is more about a position or a title than it is about the function of being a pastor. And most of the community thinks the same, it is  a professional title of authority. But in the Bible it is different. The Hebrew word “Ra’ah” means to “be a special friend of” (see Psalm 23 defining Yahweh as our Shepherd) and emphasizes the companionship or closeness of the shepherd to His sheep. This word is defining the bond the sheep have to their shepherd.

The sheep only follow the one to whom they are bonded, the one they trust. The sheep feel safe with their leader, they know him. They listen to his voice and follow him. His voice is familiar to them.  Psalm 23 holds many insights about being a trustworthy shepherd, one that sheep gladly follow.

This shepherd causes the sheep to “lie down in green pastures.” Only trusting hearts can lie down, rest and relax under the care of this shepherd. Sheep are nervous animals and will not lie down unless they feel completely safe and secure. Do those under your care lie down under your leadership? Or are they nervous and reluctant to lie down? They are standing ready to run if need be and will not lie down if there is a sense of turmoil or danger present. What causes the sheep to rest their weary bodies under our care and leadership?

1. The leader feeds them “green grass.” “Green grass” is fresh and healthy food. The teachings are alive and full of life and power, they are nutritious and abounding in words that give the sheep strength and health. This leader is feeding the sheep something that is needed for that day,  a message that helps and support his people. They taste and know this is not some ancient traditional message or a denominational agenda message. It is fresh from the heart of God, it has spiritual power to help and wise counsel to change their lives.

It comes from a leader who works hard to bring the truth of God to his people in a fresh and relevant way. Let’s get the mold and crustiness off our sermons and feed our people a diet of fresh insights of truth and love, grace upon grace. That is what they need. No more stale food! Fresh! Fresh!

2. The leader has them drink from still waters. This refers to the temperament and attitude of the leader. His heart and leadership are full of peace and calm. Some leaders are driven and drive their sheep. Some shepherds are angry or stern and have an unsettled insecure way of leading their people. But the shepherd of Psalm 23 has a still heart. It is easy for the sheep to come near him and drink deeply.  Our Shepherd is also called the “Prince of Peace.” He calls all men to come to Him and learn from Him for He is meek and lowly and they will find rest for their weary souls under His care. This is what we must emulate. Christ is our Shepherd and we are shepherds who must reflect how He leads the flock.

I encourage you to resolve the issues in your heart that cause insecurity and driveness or any attitude that creates anxiety in the people. Our people must not be insecure under our care. They must be able to relax. So we relax and are secure under God’s leading, then they can relax under our leading.

3. The pastor leads them in the paths of righteousness. He is taking them on a path or a way of living that results in righteous thinking and living. He is training them to follow God’s heart and will. He does not have corruption in his leadership, but righteousness. He obeys what he teaches them to obey. His vision and goal is not just becoming a bigger church or gain fame in his denomination, but for the flock to hear the voice of God and do His will.

The sheep relax when they know their leader is a man of integrity and is leading them to become people of integrity. That means His name means something to them, “for His name sake.” All that needs to be said when questions arise about the counsel given is “Who said that?” The Lord said that. Then all is settled. Our name reflects His counsel and trustworthiness.

Just say our name and what do people do? Do they relax? Is our name a good name, a trustworthy name? We must work hard at living  with integrity so that our name means something to others, it represents truth and love. What do the people think of when your name is mentioned? If you do  not know, find out. I know that is a frightening question for some of us. But remember, we cannot lead if we are insecure. And our people will not follow when they are uncertain. If there is damage to our name we must repair it as best we can. “A good name is more valuable than great riches.”

We will stop here and continue next month and let our hearts reflect on becoming a leader worthy of the people’s trust.

Pray with me,

Father, we long to be pastors and shepherds that love our people the way you do. We want to reflect the type of care and understanding you have of your sheep. Help us to become trustworthy and secure as leaders who are following you with all our hearts. Help us to lead our church and our people to eat green grass and drink from still waters, and to lead them in the paths of righteousness. And why are we doing this?  All for the Name that is above every Name. May you receive honor and glory from our leadership. In Jesus Name we pray it. Amen.

Be Fruitful and Multiply — Day Five

Filed under: Pray and Fast 2012 — Pastor David Jan 12, 2012 @ 11:09 pm

Day Five (Friday, Jan. 13)
Luke 24:47-49, Acts 1:8, Matthew 28:18-20
See also: Introduction, Day One, Day Two, Day Three, Day Four

Is there a secret to effective witnessing? I notice that some people become followers of Christ and right away begin to reproduce themselves, and then there are others who hardly impact anyone. Why is there such a difference? Why are there some people who just seem to be able to flow with life to others, constantly reporting an encounter with someone, resulting in their having spiritual sons and daughters by the dozens!?

I think that we all want a life that is affective in our sharing of Christ!  We want to live a life of influence for Christ, to impact others with His love and truth, to generate interest and build relationships with others for His glory.  How can we have this spiritual influence, called “fruit” in the Bible? How can we reproduce ourselves? How can we, too, experience this to its fullest?

Jesus reveals how…

First, we must have the the Trinity factor.” We must be influenced by all three persons of the Trinity. Do you have a complete understanding of God and how He works to save us?

Jesus said,“And behold I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you”. Here, we see the trinity working together for the creation of the church, the kingdom of God on earth. (Matt. 28:19) We do this work in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

  • The promise of the Father
  • The gift of the Son
  • The power of the Holy Spirit

The three work together, joining with us, resulting in touched lives. Without Them/Him we can do nothing.

Secondly, Jesus reveals the unity factor.  The question then becomes, do you believe you need others in the mix as you witness for Christ? Do you understand that you were not meant to do this by yourself?  We need others to help us be effective.  “You” is plural.  The one who works with others as a team will accomplish much more than those who “go it alone”. You need a partner to pray with you, to counsel you, and encourage you!

We need the combination of spiritual gifts to address the diversity of needs in the lives of the people we are reaching.  God meant for us to do this as a team! For this very reason, if you are not yet in a connect group in our church, I encourage you to pray about becoming involved in one.  Let us know your desire.  This is a form of “team work” which will be very powerful in inviting and bringing others to Christ!

Thirdly, we have the timing factor. Do you really understand that timing is everything? You cannot force God to move sooner, and you cannot drag your feet when God says, “move,” or you will miss out.  We cannot control the timing of when others will finally realize the love God has for them and His eternal truth. They will see when God opens their eyes.  We need to be alert and pay attention to His timing as we watch hearts change. This requires great attention, focus, and priority.

Fourth, is the location factor. Do you know that you are exactly where God wants you, right now, for His sovereign reasons? Divine appointments abound around those who take their environment seriously. Where did Jesus tell them to wait? In Jerusalem, the city of prophetic significance. This place was where it was to begin. Why there?  Well, it was there that He was hated and crucified. They needed this message of grace and love more than others.

How will you know where you should start sharing God’s love?  First, begin with your friends and family who do not know Jesus. Start there! Then, look to your neighborhood, stores and places you frequent in the community. Look for those there who do not know Jesus. This is where to start! There are many all around us who need salvation. You have been placed right where you are…to reach them!

The last insight Jesus gives us is the power factor.  Do you rely on the Holy Spirit’s power and not your own?  Without His power we are helpless and unable to truly serve anyone.

This power is not given to us to impress or control others, to overbear or to be superior towards them, but rather, to serve, influence and lead.

It is…the power of lifeto love, to think, to feel, to live a holy life before those we long to reach!  Power to overcome the attacks of Satan and his opposition to the progress of God’s kingdom.  Power to bring God’s healing to brokenness and dysfunction.  Power to see lives change, become transformed, convicted, and conformed to Christ’s image! This is the power factor!  It is not the power of persuasion or skillful talking, it is not power from one man over another man…it is the power from on high, God’s power!  His power works in us and through us in order for us to be able to help and serve others, thus fulfilling our calling on earth!

“Father, I desire to know, understand and apply Your insights into bearing fruit. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. May I be a living example of that heavenly power to save and rescue others. I open up my life to receive what You generously offer. In Jesus’ Name. Amen”

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