July 22, 2008 Matthew

Pastors: Self-Made or God-Made?

You can’t make yourself a pastor.

If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. John 8:54

 

The glory of a shepherd is not found in the study or the seminary, nor is it found in any self-produced skill or ability. Those who try to mold themselves into shepherds will only disillusion their sheep and likely bring shame upon themselves.

And I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding. Jeremiah 3:15

 

Instead, shepherds are given not made. Reading from Ephesians 4:11, “He gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers.” These roles are not born or bred of head knowledge, but from within the heart where the Spirit works. Because God provides these certain persons, it is distinct and certain when he does. One who is truly endowed with such giftings would recognize the inconceivable weight and glory of such an occupation and their utter inability to fulfill it apart from the risen Christ who declared, “You can do nothing apart from me.” (John 15:5) He might actually be inclined to doubt and run from the idea just as Jonah ran from God’s calling (Jonah 1:3), or as Moses doubted his calling (Exodus 3:11; 4:1,10, 13), or as Jeremiah was troubled by his calling (Jeremiah 1:6). Such a calling is a gift of the Spirit and thus provokes much wrestling with the Lord like Jacob did “for the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other.” (Galatians 5:17)

J. Oswald Chamber writes in his book Spiritual Leadership,

Spiritual leaders are not elected, appointed, or created by synods or churchly assemblies. God alone makes them. One does not become a spiritual leader by merely filling an office, taking course work in the subject, or resolving in one’s own will to do this task. A person must qualify to be a spiritual leader.[1]

One can easily become a doctor, a pilot, an entrepreneur, or a professional of many sorts, but it is impossible for one to become a pastor, apostle, prophet, or teacher of the living God. They are only from the hand of God and as Jesus says, “with man it is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26)

If one tries to make himself a shepherd (or a prophet, etc.) he deceives himself and his glory is nothing. What’s worse is he sets up his flock for disaster and disillusionment, and in the end he will have to give account for his actions.

Jeremiah continues the prophecy:

For the shepherds are stupid and do not inquire of the Lord; therefore they have not prospered, and all their flock is scattered. Jeremiah 10:21

 

Many shepherds have destroyed my vineyard; they have trampled down my portion; they have made my pleasant portion a desolate wilderness. Jeremiah 12:10

 

Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! declares the Lord. Jeremiah 23:1

 

Therefore thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who care for my people: “You have scattered my flock and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. Behold, I will attend to you for your evil deeds, declares the Lord. Jeremiah 23:2

 

My people have been lost sheep. Their shepherds have led them astray, turning them away on the mountains. From mountain to hill they have gone. They have forgotten their fold. Jeremiah 50:6

 

And Ezekiel:

Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy, and say to them, even to the shepherds, Thus says the Lord God: Ah, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep?” Ezekiel 34:2

 

As I live, declares the Lord God, surely because my sheep have become a prey, and my sheep have become food for all the wild beasts, since there was no shepherd, and because my shepherds have not searched for my sheep, but the shepherds have fed themselves, and have not fed my sheep… Ezekiel 34:8

 

And Zechariah too:

My anger is hot against the shepherds, and I will punish the leaders; for the Lord of hosts cares for his flock, the house of Judah, and will make them like his majestic steed in battle. Zechariah 10:3

 

In contrast to the shepherds after God’s own heart:

I will set shepherds over them who will care for them, and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall any be missing, declares the Lord. Jeremiah 23:4

 

And I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding. Jeremiah 3:15


[1] Oswald Chambers, Spiritual Leadership, (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 1967). p.18

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