We’re in an exciting time as we look to the future of the Queen City Church. We are gaining health as we grow and become more and more like a family. Our partnership with the YMCA is strong and our presence in the NoDa community is continually increasing. As Paul planted churches from city to city, one of the first things he sought to do was the appoint elders in every church as “under-shepherds” of God’s people (Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5). This Sunday, we will look at what the qualities are of being an Elder in the church. We are all called to live as ambassadors of Christ in this world. A leader in the church is someone who embodies what that looks like. My prayer for this Sunday is that we are all open to hearing the call to be transformed into the image of Christ as we examine what a Shepherding Leader is supposed to look like.
Over the last few weeks thinking about this sermon coming up, Psalm 23 has been running through my head.
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
Paul gives lists of qualifications for an Elder in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9 but these lists are more than just qualities of high moral character. They are the marks of leadership and spiritual maturity. They are marks showing they have weathered the storms and their solid foundations are in God. When I think of the quality of a Shepherd, I always come back to the 23rd Psalm. The picture painted is one of God walked with His sheep, taking them into places of peace where pastures are green and water is plentiful. This psalm doesn’t just paint a picture of peace though. The Good Shepherd also keeps the sheep close during hard times as they walk through dark valleys. The Shepherd does not abandon the flock in their time of need.
Jesus is the Good Shepherd (John 10:1-21). The Shepherd of the Church models their leadership in the image of the Good Shepherd. The Shepherd keeps the flock safe from false teaching but also lays down their lives in the same manner of Christ. The live life shaped by the cross. In the central narrative of Mark’s Gospel (8:22-10:52), Jesus predicts his death three times and each time calls the twelve to pick up their cross and follow him. Mark is laying out a model of what Church leadership looks like through this section. They do not rule like the Gentiles do who lord their authority over their subjects (10:42). When Christ paints a picture of leaders in the church, he says, “Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (10:43-45).
While these passages point to the leaders of the church, they are the call of every Christian to be shaped by the cross into the image of Christ. The only way we become a healthy Family of God is when we allow Christ to be the Head and we properly become the Body of Christ and move and function as he did. We are called to be the living sacrifice for this world to know God.