Keeping Watch Over Your Souls

 

Shepherd 6

This is a modified version of a paper the session gives to potential members to help them understand how shepherding works at our church. 

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. Hebrews 13:17

In II Corinthians 11:22-33 Paul is giving proof of his apostleship by listing the various trials he has had to endure. He mentions beatings, being shipwrecked, thieves, hunger, and sleeplessness. Finally, he mentions the daily, deep concern he has for all the churches. We would not put caring for a church in a list with beatings, but Paul does. Shepherding the people of God requires great diligence and care. Perhaps this is why the author of Hebrews adds the above exhortation at the end of his book reminding his readers to let those who rule do so with joy and not grief. The elders of Christ Church wrote this brief article to show you how you can help us in this task an make sure we can stand before God blameless (Acts 20:26-27).

Before we get to specifics, there is one underlying point that needs to be made: shepherds must know their sheep. Our Lord makes this explicit in John 10, especially verses 3 and 14 where Jesus says that He “calls His own sheep by name” and that He “knows his own.” Shepherding is a hands-on activity. You cannot shepherd sheep from afar. A shepherd cannot mend a broken leg from miles away. A shepherd cannot keep his sheep from running over a cliff via Skype. A shepherd must know and be present with his sheep. This is made explicit in the Hebrews passage quoted above. As elders we must give an account for your souls. That means we must know you. We are going to stand before the Judge of all the earth. Therefore we must know the state of your souls. For many Christians this is uncomfortable. We do not like people asking questions. We want to show up on Sunday and then be left alone Monday through Saturday.  But if that happens then would be failing in our task. As elders, we will strive to not be lords over you (I Peter 5:3) and will refrain from being too nosy. However, expect us to be involved.   Continue reading