Did you know that preachers, teachers, and leaders are held at a higher accountability and responsibility than others? "Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly." (James 3:1) What are preachers, teachers, and leaders and what does the Bible say regarding them?
Preachers, teachers, and leaders are the shepherd of those they teach/lead. They are to represent Jesus who is the Good Shepherd to His flock, us. Just as Jesus leads us in the right direction, corrects us when we do wrong, continually pursues us, and leads us back to Him when we go astray, earthly shepherds are to do the same. Preachers are the shepherds of the church, they are to lead, teach, and correct/discipline us. Also, as a shepherd protects his sheep from wolves and wild beasts, so must leaders protect the church from false witnesses, wolves in sheep's clothing, and evildoers. God is very clear about these and warns strongly against them many times. Leaders are to carefully watch the flock and observe truth vs. falsehood, then act appropriately. “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them." (Matthew 7:13-16). "But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people. What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked person from among you.”" (1 Corinthians 5:10-14).
Note: true believers are not judging, for God has already done so when He said your fruit will bear witness to what you are (paraphrasing). We are not judging others by being intolerant of evil/sin. If we turn a blind eye or allow the evil/sin, or falsehood to be in the church, then we are guilty and held accountable. God despises lukewarm Christians, they literally make Him sick. True Christians, especially leaders, are called to stand firm on God's Word, speak the truth boldly with love, and hold fast to their faith. "These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of My mouth." (Revelation 3:14-16).
What are some characteristics of a shepherd? Take a look at Psalm 23:
Puts God first, Provides for his people, Helps those in need - " The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want." - vs. 1
Mediates on God's Word, Comforts others - " He makes me to lie down in green pastures;" - vs. 2
Leads others to God and His Will - " He leads me beside the still waters." - vs. 2
Speaks with love, truth, and kindness, Cares for others - " He restores my soul;" - vs. 3
Walks with God and leads others to Him - "He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake." vs. 3
Confident in God, boldly speaks God's Word, strengthen and empowers others - "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me;" - vs.4
Chastises/Disciplines wrongdoing/sin directs others to go on the right path and not be lead astray - "Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me." vs. 4
Protects, encourages others - "You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;" vs. 5
Humble, servants heart - "You anoint my head with oil;" - vs. 5
Blesses, Enriches, Uplifts others - "My cup runs over." - vs. 5
Cultivates others, and lives a life that brings praise, glory, and honor to God for His mercy and grace - "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever." vs. 6
2. Godly & Blameless
They are called to live godly and blameless lives and portray Jesus' character. Blameless does not mean perfect, it means living a life where others cannot find fault in you, being innocent of wrongdoing. The Bible gives clear instructions on how leaders of the church are supposed to live. An overseer is called to live above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, sober, gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money, must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, he must live in a way that is worthy of respect, must not be a recent Christian, must have a good reputation with outsiders. (1 Timothy 3:1-7). Elders/deacons are called to be worthy of respect, sincere, sober, honest, steadfast in the faith, have a clear conscience, must first be tested and if nothing is found against them they will be able to serve as deacons, must be faithful to his wife and manage his children and his household well. (1 Timothy 3:8-10, 12). Wives of deacons are to be worthy of respect, temperate, not malicious talkers or gossipers, trustworthy in everything. (1 Timothy 11).
To be a true preacher, you have to be called by God. It is not a career choice it is the Spirit's choice. If you are a preacher, teacher, or leader called by God then be encouraged that what you are doing is for the Lord and enhancing His kingdom! Through your life, you are bringing God glory and honor, and one day will be able to see the many lives you reached and affected by being obedient to God. Stay strong, remain steadfast in the faith, be anchored to Jesus, our Rock, speak the truth with boldness and wisdom, and keep planting and watering the seeds of salvation.
“The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest field.” (Matthew 9:37-38)