March 19, 2011
Shepherds’ Conference 2011 sermons are online!
I really enjoyed General Session #4 by Rick Holland, and transcribed the last 13 minutes of the sermon.
Enjoy, and be blessed!
Men, we are not celebrities; we’re servants. Listen (chuckle), it’s easier to stand strong in the pulpit than stoop low to wash feet. It’s easier to go to conferences than to visit widows and orphans; easier to lead seminars in public, than pray along for our people in private. The accent of Peter is simply this–you pastor, because you love God and you care–you care for His flock, His people.
Do we care? I mean, think about what you do, preachers, after you preach, and you kinda walk down from the pulpit, and people come to talk to you, and you have a special ear tuned to them. And a lot of times, they’ll say, “Boy, I loved your sermon…” and you want to say, “Great, tell me all the reasons why; I want to take notes; I want to do it again; please stop…” (Laughter from audience)
I don’t want to burst your bubble; most of the people who stand in line to give you a compliment after you preach are not saying, “You’re great.” They’re saying, “Please notice me; please care for me; you have said something of spiritual attraction and divine authority and I want to be shepherded; I want a relationship with you.”
So what’s the answer? Shepherd ‘em!
Here’s how you tell.
“Oh, pastor, I loved your sermon.”
“Really? Well, how’s it going?”
Boom! They’re off to the races on their life; they weren’t there to talk about the exegesis of the semantic domain of presbuteros. (Laughter from audience). They want to come because you made an impact, and they want you to shepherd them! So… shepherd… them!
I love preaching. I LOVE preaching! It is as Phil [Johnson] preached on yesterday, it is one of the most clear and guiding part of the shepherd’s crook, in a pastor’s arsenal. However, can I remind you, there’s just a few verses about preaching! There’s a whole lot about pastoral ministry. There is exponentially more about caring for souls, than preaching sermons.
How much time do we spend in the pulpit? Versus, spending time with people? I don’t want to undermine preaching, I want to elevate pastoral ministry in my affections.
Where does this all come back to, well, Jeremiah 10:21, “For the shepherds have become stupid…” The SHEPHERDS, not the sheep. “The shepherds have become stupid, and have not sought the LORD.” There it is. Therefore they have not prospered, their flock is scattered… The problem with pastors who are self-seeking, and not flock-promoting and flock-shepherding, and the problem is–they haven’t sought the Lord! It’s very clear in Jeremiah 10:21.
Let’s care for people. Let’s have people have a better walk with Jesus because you’re their spiritual leader. Very simple.
Well, finally, the third sobering reality of pastoral ministry–it’s an honorable responsibility. It’s an honorable responsibility–and when the Chief Shepherd appears you will receive the unfading crown of glory. Here Peter provides the incentive from spiritual oversight, for service, namely the eternal reward we get; this is not little league soccer where everyone gets a trophy for when you get to heaven. (Laugter in audience).
It’s not going to all the people and the pastors, “Okay, you guys get biscuits and gravy at the marriage supper of the Lamb, and pastors, this is a Ruth’s Chris moment.” (Laughter). It’s not like categorical pastors; it’s only those who have been responsible with their delegated responsibilities. An elder-pastor’s reward is not measured by financial remuneration, or by worldly glory, it’s measured by the smile of Jesus, who will say, “Well done, good and faithful servant; enter into joy with me.”
Now, one of the most beloved and familiar passages in the Bible is Psalm 23, which I think is the echo of what Peter is saying here when he says the term “Chief Shepherd, [arxe poimenos]“–the Champion Shepherd, the Most Shepherd, the Most Important Shepherd. Psalm 23 has been for many the hope of the Jews, hope of Christians, since David wrote it thirty centuries ago. It’s also so familiar that it’s known even to unbelievers. Listen to it, but listen to it with these ears–the Chief Shepherd is our example–here’s how our Shepherd leads, and is the example for our pastoral ministries:
[Reads and explains Psalm 23]
Before you ask God to double your church, make sure you’re reading for double the “accounting.” Before you ask God to fill the pews, make sure you’re ready to pray for those who are in the pews. Before you ask for a larger ministry, make sure you’re asking for more time to be able to do visitation and go see people. Accountability and responsibility for the souls of God’s flock is serious. Let me ask you one question: Do you really understand that the people in our ministries–do you really understand that they are souls that just have bodies? Or are you looking at them as bodies, and oh, they have souls too? When you think of the people as eternal souls with bodies that will corrupt and change, it changes the spectrum and the dimensions and the depth of what you want to do. Our goal, as shepherds, is to firmly grasp the hand of our Savior, firmly love and care for the hands of our people, and bring them together, and let go and watch the joy.