Dr. Lark's Harmony Silence of the Lambs 

by

Voyle A. Glover






Acts 20:28-29 "Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. 29 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock."

The followers of Christ have been likened to sheep. We even have shepherds and we are called the flock. Unfortunately, sheep are amongst the dumbest of God's creatures. Their ignorance is appalling. Their awareness of danger is almost non-existent. And their ability to become oblivious to their surroundings is legend. Surely, Jesus knew us well when He likened us to sheep.

A pastor of a church is in a unique role. He is a leader by virtue of his position. He carries a measure of authority because of that position. His biblical role is defined rather clearly. He is a shepherd of the flock. His mission is to guard, to nurture, to warn, to exhort, to teach, and to lead.

But, what happens when the shepherd leads with guile? What happens when the shepherd fails to nurture and instead, starves the flock? What about the shepherd who does not guard the flock, but instead, permits the enemy to stalk the flock without a rallying cry of warning and a flurry of aggressive action by the shepherd? What then?

Well, most would say that such a shepherd should not continue on in the job. However, it is not so easy as that. Driving away the Shepherd is not a role that comes natural to sheep. Their role is to follow, not lead. Their role is to obey, not rule. It is unnatural for sheep to be aggressive. But suddenly, some in the flock find themselves cast into a role that forces them to rise up and challenge the shepherd. And such challenges are seldom easy, never pretty, and usually causes division within the church. Sides are taken. Accusations are hurled, and some on each side begins quoting scripture (while a few may even quote some favorite oaths). Christianity and the love we are to have for one another suddenly gets lost in the emotional rhetoric.

Like sheep, it is not unusual for church members to sit in a church, content to be lead, without question. They will sit at the feet of a shepherd, docile lambs all, waiting to be fed, swallowing without thought, without reason, and oblivious to any danger that might emanate from the shepherd. After all, the shepherd is there to protect, to feed and help. It is not the role of the shepherd to be a predator. Thus, sheep have no fear of the Shepherd. He and his Staff are there to protect them, and he is their guide. They've come to trust him.
Remember, Jesus likened us to sheep. And like sheep, we follow Pastors—leaders chosen from amongst us to be a kind of shepherd. Ah, but too often, there comes one who looks like a shepherd, talks like a shepherd, carries the tools of the shepherd's trade, but has a heart more akin to a ravenous wolf. And most sheep simply are not up to the task of driving that wolf out.
There are, I'm sure, a myriad of reasons why wolves come in amongst us. Perhaps they are using the flock to erect monuments unto themselves. Perhaps the motive is gain. But lamb after lamb falls victim, gets lost, is destroyed or is starved, often leaving for pastures which are "protected" by another wolf. And so it is, the unspiritual pastor, the supposed shepherd of the flock, continues on, robed in his garb of spiritual-sounding rhetoric and waving his Staff at the sheep to show his authority and attachment to it. And sheep-like, the people nod in contentment, ignorant and starved, never sensing the danger nor the deceit.
Virtually every church split involving a pastor/congregation problem occurs because of one or a mix of the following: (1) spiritual Christians perceive that the pastor is not really what he pretends to be and that he is grossly negligent in his shepherding; or (2) unspiritual Christians react negatively to a shepherd's goading or his attempt to lead them away from danger, or his attempt to feed them better "food."
A good, godly pastor who is leading the flock and doing his job correctly, and who is walking with God, almost never has to face a church split. He may encounter "problem" members and "unruly" brethren. But, a church split is seldom the end of such problems. His pride doesn't get in the way. He doesn't feel he has something to prove. He isn't in competition with anyone in the church and thus, doesn't feel threatened by others in the congregation who are being used by the Lord. He understands that God raises up others to do His work and is not filled with jealousy by another whom the Lord uses to teach or preach but instead, glories in such, rejoicing that God is at work. His sense of security rests not in himself, but in God. His sense of job security does not rest in his title or position, but in the knowledge that God has called him and equipped him for a task. He is elated that others can take some of the burden from him. He calls such as minister with him, co-laborers in the Lord.
But mostly, such a man of God understands that it is not his ministry but HIS ministry. And if it be God's, then those who would destroy it, or those who would hinder it, must answer to God, not the pastor. Such a shepherd knows that the battle is the Lord's, not his. He will, therefore, continue to minister to the flock as usual, and will not seek to become embroiled in the cauldron of emotional rhetoric that comes from those who would oppose such a shepherd. He follows Paul's admonition to the letter:

2 Tim 2:24-25 "And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, 25 In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;" Such men have learned the truth of Prov 15:1: "A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger."

Often, it is the shepherd who, although he is in most respects a good leader, is also too aggressive and attempts to lord it over the flock, contrary to 1 Peter 5:2-3, which says: "Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; 3 Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock." Instead of using his Staff for protection and gentle leadership, it is used to aggressively, harshly and sharply prod the sheep or to punish the sheep. Eventually, all but the dumbest ones wake up and rebel against the shepherd.
So what can be done with a shepherd who is abusing the flock or who is failing in his duty to feed the flock? Some would say Matthew 18:15-17 is the approach. Jesus noted that if one had aught against a brother, he should go to the brother alone and if he wouldn't hear him, then with witnesses and if he wouldn't hear him with the witnesses, then to take him to the church. If he wouldn't hear the church, then he should be treated as a heathen and publican.
As a practical matter, where a pastor rules in an fashion that is contrary to the Word, the single sheep who wanders into his den stands a good likelihood of being shorn. And even with a couple of sheep with him, they are usually no match for the shepherd. He has the position of authority. He has an image of respectability. He has a biblical role which conveys upon him the perception, in the eyes of most of the sheep, of authenticity, and of authority. He has the final word. Most of the sheep will look on whilst the other sheep attempt to drive away the shepherd and then, when the shepherd is aroused, they will do the bidding of the shepherd and attempt to drive the "unruly" sheep from the fold.
All in the name of God, of course.
Some of the sheep will scatter, frightened and confused at the flurry of activity, uncertain as to the causes, ignorant of both the factual and biblical basis for the action, and ignorant of the process itself. Some of the sheep will go back to their former role, contented, munching in the pasture to which they've been led, ignorant of anything better, and oblivious as to their shepherd's terrible failure. Of course, the sheep who dared challenge or oppose or question the shepherd are driven out of the fold. And they leave, angry, hurt, wondering how God could permit this, and confused as to why they had to leave the church where they'd put so much of their lives.

There are five things that are essential for every Christian to know who finds him or herself in a church led by a bad shepherd:

First. Every Christian must understand his or her role in the church. Jesus did not call us to be docile sheep in the fold. He called us to better things. He called us out of the fold. He called us to feed the sheep. He didn't call us to graze. He didn't call us just to dine. The command to go into all the world is to all of us. The command to evangelize is to all, not just shepherds. We are all to pray. We are all supposed to exhort one another. We are all supposed to pray for one another. We are all to support one another. We do not feed alone as individuals. We do not graze on an island alone. And, we do not serve the shepherd. He serves us and God. And we serve God.

Second. Christians must realize that God is in control. He commands. He is Lord of all. Just as Israel had to come to realize that the battle is the Lord's, even so the Christian must come to realize that lesson. Our battle is a spiritual one. Thus, our battle is one that only Christ can win because He alone has power. All power was given to Him. He can and will use it for our benefit.

Third. The Shepherd of Shepherds is Jesus Christ. All others are there at His will and serve at His pleasure. Thus, where a flock has within its midst a shepherd who is unworthy of serving and who is causing hurt to the flock, the One who appointed him can also remove him.

Fourth. James 5:16 "Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." A Christian who is prayerless, will be powerless and helpless against a bad shepherd. Such a Christian is likely to be shorn (shredded is probably more correct a term). Ah, but a Christian who envelopes him or herself in the power and protection of God in prayer has now enlisted The Shepherd. That Lamb of God does not stand alone. The Staff of God is beside such a Christian. Now, that little lamb brings the awesome power of God to bear upon the situation. And several such praying Christians can cause a splitting church to unite, and a failing shepherd to fall to his knees or limp out the door.

Fifth. Beware of trying to play the role of a Paul in confronting a pastor. While Paul rebuked Peter, the Lord had prepared Peter to accept the rebuke as of the Lord. Thus, before you stand in confrontation, you'd better wait on the Lord to make sure your shepherd is prepared of God to receive your plea, your entreatment, because if he is not, then you have started a war in the camp. And if you read the story found in Judges 19 & 20 you'll realize one thing: When brethren war against brethren, regardless of who is in the right, both sides have casualties.

Far better for Christians to unite in prayer against a bad shepherd, than to stand and wage war. I do not say that there is never a time when one should stand in visible, vocal opposition to a pastor, particularly where one has clearly forsaken God and doing great harm to the flock. I say only that it should be done with great care and after much prayer. Moreover, you are to make entreatments to the pastor. 1 Tim 5:1 "Rebuke not an elder, but entreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren;"
Speak to him. Tell him his error. Advise him. But, beware of your motives. God does not need your shouts of biblical rhetoric, nor your maneuvering, nor your politics, nor your influence or power, to enable the church you're in to survive this particular shepherd. God is not helpless without you.

Finally, whatever we speak in such matters must be with love. The Scriptures tell us we are to speak the truth...in love (Eph. 4:15). We are usually quick to speak the truth. Indeed, we'll often shout that truth. Unfortunately, we're oft prone to forget the love that is supposed to accompany that truth.

Remember, sheep don't shear shepherds.

But God can.

The End

Those who read this article were also interested in the following:

How to Tell if a Christian Ministry is Cultic
Why Do Fools Fall in Lust
When the Godly are Ungodly
Leaving the World of IFBx
(dealing with leaving the extreme fringes of the Independent Fundamental Baptist world)

Copyright 2000 Voyle A. Glover


 

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