1Peter 5: I have a special concern for you church leaders.
A church is without a pastor and the search is on to fill that vacancy. The pulpit committee has a list of pastoral qualifications and they’re sifting through applicants. They want an experienced pastor who still has children at home. The new pastor needs to be a good preacher, but who’s also a people person who’ll get along well with the diverse congregation. It’s not a bad idea to have such a list but Peter’s qualifications for church leaders ought to be prominently in the mix. He urges pastors to see themselves as shepherds who are dedicated to caring for God’s flock. He expects them to be servants who aren’t always trying to figure out ways to get more money or leverage over the congregation. He wants them to be tender in spirit and be good examples for God’s people. It would be nice to have a pastor with the right mix of youth and maturity, who is studious in sermon preparation but is also a people person. Still, I can’t help but think Peter’s criteria trumps all the above. A church with such a pastor is blessed indeed.
Take Away: Ultimately the Lord’s list of pastoral qualifications is the one that makes the most sense.
God loves even broken people
Ezekiel 34: From now on, I myself am the shepherd.
Sometimes people wander away from the faith as innocent victims rather than guilty rebels. In this passage Ezekiel expresses the Lord’s condemnation of the religious leaders who have utterly failed to minister to the people of God. These leaders, Ezekiel says, are like predatory shepherds who care only for themselves and use the sheep to their own ends. Here in America we know all about predatory clergy as disgusting stories of immoral and predatory behavior have rocked the Church. Sometimes it’s clear that the secular media loves to pick on Christianity, but in this case the actions and the cover up needs to be exposed to light. How many people have grown up with a distrust of God and the Church because of the failure of these awful shepherds? Ezekiel describes the flock as “scattered,” “exposed” and “vulnerable.” He tells us that the Lord will judge these predatory shepherds and then, he’ll turn his attention to the broken ones. He, personally, will be their shepherd. “I will bring them back” he promises. I fear that sometimes we “church people” are too hard on those who are living self-destructive lives. Each one has a story that, yes, may include personal failure (the Lord says he’s “stepping in and judging between one sheep and another”). However, some folks have had plenty of help in messing up their lives. Much of the blame may go to some authority figure like a parent, teacher, and, sadly, even a pastor who failed them either intentionally or by neglect.
Take Away: Sadly, some folks have had plenty of help in messing up their lives and stand in need of a second chance more than condemnation.