November 16 - Spiritual Leaders
The people of God have two basic needs: the need to be protected and the need to be guided; both are articulated in the Shepherd Psalm (Psalm 23) as the rod and the staff of the shepherd. God instructed Ezekiel to set up a watchman over he city wall, to warn God’s people of impending attack from the enemies. The prophet himself was to serve as the watchman, to hear the voice of God and warn the people of any danger that was coming.
While the prophets of those days were supposed to serve as watchmen, the leaders in Israel were supposed to serve as shepherds, leading and guiding the people of God. They could be political leaders such as kings or religious leaders such as the priests. In this respect, the shepherd in Israel failed miserably. They were only interested in shepherding themselves, taking the best from the sheep without ever caring for their needs. The weak ones were not taken care of, the sick were not healed and the wounded were not bound up, those who were scattered were not gathered back. What they did was to oppress and rule over them.
God was to become the Good Shepherd, seeking the lost sheep and setting up judgment among them. He would also set up His own shepherd David to take care of their needs. God was to bring in a covenant of peace with the sheep, that they might live in peace and prosperity with abundance of rain and showers of blessing. He would become their God and they become His sheep.
The shepherds of the Old Testament, prophets, priests and kings are no longer with us today. God is raising up other kinds of shepherds like church pastors and political or civic leaders to take care of His people. How should we look at these leaders, especially spiritual leaders? The author of Hebrews gives us a few hints on how to respond to them.
For those who have led us spiritually by bringing the gospel to us, we have to imitate their faith after observing the fruit of their lives. No leader is perfect and the only thing worth imitating is their relationship with God, i.e. their faith. We have to bear in mind that only Jesus never changes. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. We do not put our trust or hope on our leaders but on the Lord Jesus Christ.
God has called some spiritual leaders to lead us and we have to submit to their spiritual authority. As their sheep, they have to be accountable to God for how we live our lives. Are you learning anything from the faith of your leaders? Do you submit to their leadership? Jesus the Great Shepherd is sharing His responsibilities with other under-shepherds. Let us pray for them as they lead us.
Ps 123:1-4 Ezek 33:1-34:31 Heb 13:1-25 Prov 27:21-22