"I tell you the solemn truth, the one who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs in some other way, is a thief and a robber. The one who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. The doorkeeper opens the door for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought all his own sheep out, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they recognize his voice. They will never follow a stranger, but will run away from him, because they do not recognize the stranger’s voice." Jesus told them this parable, but they did not understand what he was saying to them. So Jesus said to them again, "I tell you the solemn truth, I am the door for the sheep. All who came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters through me, he will be saved, and will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come so that they may have life, and may have it abundantly. "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand, who is not a shepherd and does not own sheep, sees the wolf coming and abandons the sheep and runs away. So the wolf attacks the sheep and scatters them. Because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep, he runs away. "I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me –just as the Father knows me and I know the Father — and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not come from this sheepfold. I must bring them too, and they will listen to my voice, so that there will be one flock and one shepherd. This is why the Father loves me — because I lay down my life, so that I may take it back again. No one takes it away from me, but I lay it down of my own free will. I have the authority to lay it down, and I have the authority to take it back again. This commandment I received from my Father."
(Joh 10:1-18 NET.)

At first this parable can kind of confusing because Jesus is two different things.  He is the good shepherd and He is the door (or the gate).  There is a lot here to consider.  Jesus is addressing the Pharisees and some metaphors work at more than one level.  At one level is addressing the Pharisees directly.  At another he is giving us principles we can apply throughout the ages.

Jesus contrasts good shepherds, thieves and hirelings.  All those leaders that came before Him were robbers and thieves.  In one sense because Jesus is the door.  Before Jesus there was no door.  Now for us Jesus is the door.  A good shepherd will enter through the door.  They will point people to Christ.  They lead the people through the door, through Christ to find pasture.  The thief has no intention of leading people to Christ, just to steal, kill and destroy.  The hireling may indeed offer some comfort and guidance to the sheep until a greater threat emerges.  When the hireling faces a choice between protecting him or herself and those of the sheep they abandon the sheep.  A good shepherd will lay down their lives for sheep.

Is your pastor a good shepherd in the model of Christ, a thief or a hireling?

Good shepherd in the model of Christ False shepherd
Leads you to Christ Leads you circles and takes advantage of you
Listens to the voice of Christ with you Forces you to listen to them
Calls you  gently.  You respond because you feel safe, and loved and you trust the pastor. Drives the you around through fear, manipulation and force.  Expressions of love are proven empty
Is concerned about all the “sheep.”  Shows care and concern for each person based on their inherent worth in Christ Abandons the people that aren’t with the program, stubborn or wounded
Leads you to life in Christ Sucks the life out of you
Knows and cares for each of the people.  In turn the people know the character and integrity of the pastor. Doesn’t care to know anyone that doesn’t further their agenda.  People have no clue what the pastor is really like.
Will risk conflict and will sacrifice themselves for you Will abandon you at the first sign of trouble. 

Things to consider:

  • Are you being lead to Christ?
  • Are lead to hear the voice of Christ directly?
  • Are you being lead gently or harshly?  Are you treated unsparingly?
  • Are church members abandoned or ostracized when they have problems that prevent them from participating fully?
  • Do you have more life in Christ or less?
  • Does your leader know you?  Do you know the leader or is just a game of appearances?
  • Are you being taken advantage of to further a religious  or personal agenda?
  • Will you leader stick up for you and abandon you when they conflict arises?

3 comments on “Is your pastor a good shepherd in the model of Christ?

  1. Hi

    I have been reading quite a bit on this web site. Did not know there was this term “covering” theology. Heard all about it all my church life just did not know it had a real name. In trying to keep it short, I will only share with you my most recent experience with church hurt. The first time, I actually left the church and did not want it. But we serve a God who loves us to the end…no matter what the circumstance, he is faithful to those that truly love and seek Him. I belong to Him! Recently I have found myself struggling in my church. The leadership where I attend use the term “order” to control and rule by intimidation. When I say leadership I mean the first lady and pastor…all other ministers and deacons “support” all that they say and do; and if they don’t they never express it, they just “obey” those that have rule over them for the sake of “order” because “God is a God of order”. I have even heard it said that “the people are not greater than the preacher/teacher”. This was expressed by a visiting preacher who supports the heirettical “order” of the church “ordained by God”. The real and perplexing trouble I have is that these people do not allow any one underneath them to correct them or speak against any wrong that they do. I am not talking about decisions regarding the church, I am talking about bad behavior. A controlling first lady that is mean and condecending towards people who seem uncooperative…..better yet who she can’t control. No one can do anything good enough for her. The pastor supports her and she him…who can disagree or approach them? Their posture is they are right and only certain people have the authority to tell them that they are wrong, you know like a bishop or their “spiritual fathers”. They say beautiful things like ” I love everybody” but their actions are different all the time. They are constantly praying and asking us to pray for unity and love in the church but will not acknowlegde that their kind of love is the problem. Their love picks and chooses, only uses people who will obey and agree…I was actually told by this first lady “you will not challenge me!” She was very angry, this was not even regarding a biblical issue, the message from this statement was that I am beneath her. Her behavior has been reported to the pastor several times, no one will ever know if he has said any thing or not to her. Its like this big pink elephant in the room trampling over everybody and he acts like he does not see it. These are the people that say they have the spirit of discernment. If this is so why don’t they see the God in me? I have struggeled so bad with this to the point that at first I thought it was me. I would read and search the scripture to find my error and read on how to correct or what my response should be. I always get the same answer from God…Love, and so I press on in love. The best part of this is that in this press I have had to run into the arms of God to try to understand all this behavior, theirs and mine. During this time of searching God has opened my eyes and ears to the good news of Jesus Christ! As I searched God opened up the scriptures in a way that I have never seen before, His word came alive!!! I started seeing Christ in everything old and new testament (covenant). I have been set free!! The bible says that whom the Lord sets free is free indeed! So now I keep going to church with these “new” eyes and these “new” ears. I hear error! This is what all the trouble has been about, error. Error is being preached and taught in this church including the whole “obey your rulers” no matter what, teaching. The error is that people are being “trained” as monkeys to obey not think. Pastors say look it up for your self and they tell you that what they say is in the book, but when you do and do in a manner unto God and God so graciously pours into wisdom regarding scripture, because its not tradition or what they say, you are wrong, rebellious, confused or anything else thay can tell others to maintain submission through fear and control. Why can’t they see what God is doing in my life? Why can’t they recognize truth? I suppose its just like when Jesus walked, the Leaders of the church rejected him and did not see him as the truth, the way and the life. I am not Jesus, but my bible tells me that as He is so am I, that we walk as one. I suppose I should get used to the rejection. To know and speak the truth about the Gospel of Christ and ACTUALLY walk in it upsets the enemy and the enemy will use anyone that he can to stop the message. So needless to say I feel alienated in my church. I don’t believe everthing the pastor says. When I openly disagree I get more and more of the cold shoulder. Right now the first lady and pastor only speak to me bacause it just can’t be obvious that they don’t so its the bare minimum; when Im close enough! I’m not sure what to do. Should I leave or stay? Even though I have been delivered from this abuse and the spirit of fear, its still happening to others. No one can talk against the pastor or first lady, “it goes against” God who appointed them!? Church hopping is not tolerated; there is no perfect church I’m told. Whats one to do? Is staying home an option? This is so difficult for me right now. I told God that I would not run from church anymore, he has delivered me from this tormenting mindset, but here I still am. In this church. I hope this does not sound like pride or arrogance. I just want to flow in the spirit of Christ and in the liberty of the cross, but to this leadership I’m nothing..this first lady even said to me “you ain’t even that spiritual” as I was telling her how proud I was of the work that Christ was doing in my life. This person don’t even think I know God let alone the truth of the Gospel and furthermore can’t tell her nothing. (She has been in Church all her life; I’m just a hoe!) Sorry for the lenghthy conversation but I don’t get to talk about it much, this is why I find myself on the internet searching for insight. I have no voice with this leadership. I’m not hearing God say leave, but I feel like I’m wasting my time here; what does God want from me here? Why stay?

  2. I remember a similar situation in a church I attended several years ago. I stuck it out for several years despite some nastiness on the part of a pastor’s wife that always went unchallenged. I was scared to challenge it because I was afraid I might be the problem, or that it actually wasn’t that bad. Finally I went to an elder I could trust and discussed it candidly and came to the decision that the place was making me sick. The problem with this pastor’s wife was also that she would never let anyone go without raising concerns about why. But when I told her I had resigned and would be moving on, she actually accepted it with some grace. What I learned was that I couldn’t be part of something that was hindering me spiritually, and that I had to follow God, not people. Leaving was the hardest thing I ever did, but I am glad I got out of there. It has taken me years to work through the anger and guilt about how I didn’t speak up for the sake of others like me who stayed, but sometimes we have to protect ourselves and our reputation so we can start again somewhere healthier. I don’t know what is right for you in your situation, but I offer my story to encourage you that you are not the only one who has wrestled with this kind of thing. Reading Jeff VanVonderen’s “The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse” has really helped me come to terms with much of what I experienced at that church, and it has a good section abut staying and fighting the abuse or leaving-flying a bad situation so the system can be exposed as out of God’s will. I think that gives the best advice because you can read it and apply it to your unique situation and decide what works for you. Just remember, you are a steward of your own resources, and you don’t have to waste them in a bad situation. We all need a safe place to grow spiritually, whether that be church or a support group. God bless you as you seek God’s best for your life!

  3. Show me a church without religeon.I first left a C of E by an agent of division,telling me we had discernment and were more spiritual.After church hopping for a while through distrust I fell away from church altogether to become a recluse.After my dad called the shrinks on me and the Lord delivered me from them and him,I was discipled by an ex-JW,a real Angel of light.They messed him up bad,though he went solo,thinking he was over them.The sad thing is that everywhere he went churches threw him out.As I later found no-one wants to understand you when you’re ex-cult.He had major issues with authority and wasn’t accountable to anyone.He user the scriptures to justify his every position.I loved him deeply and recognising God’s authority in Him was willingly fully submissive.He was paranoid,decieved,abusive,unstable and controlling,all under the banner of Love.After becoming his clone,due to him condemning any uniqueness,we would evangelise everywhere till 3am on a cheese sarnie in -3′.All churches were evil and he alone had the truth.He then turned on me,becoming abusive,calling me a clone and a demon.He told me that by God’s authority I was a fallen angel and was in heaven.I believed him wholeheartedly,because all of my faith was in Him.He said it was either him or me.Despite my self admission,he just said he always knew it.I left my dying father to follow him.My dad had always been controlling yet warned me against him.I believed my mentor because he suffered for Christ and had beheld him.Several months of hyperventalative panic attacks later,my Mum had me put in a hostel,where I evangelised to be saved,yet explained I was a fallen angel.I placed by hope in:He died for all things,whether in heaven,or earth,but still screamed myself to sleep.It wasn’t until,in worship one day I beheld the Lord myself,that I realised I was no demon.He was smiling at me.My passion grew and I was quickly snapped up by the holiness Pentecostal crowd.They love bombed me,whilst instructing me about authority/authoritarianism.Though I suffered there,I was blessed and no leader is perfect.Rebellion like sin is decietful and I increasinglysaw the leader as a hinderance to achieving God’s plan.I left to return to a ‘freer’ church,who told me to submit somewhere.I did neither returning to the C of E,where I was for 6 years.Their humility attracted me ,yet I then discovered pastoral neglect.Big church,no authority,no community,no love.My hunger for love guilt and rejection by the C of E all led me to a self appointed local hero role,where I became God to about 1000 people.To begin with my intentions were good,but I was pulled into worldliness through intimidation and relationships.Eventually I flipped becoming alienated from the church,entangled in the world and theologically screwed up.Although I disagree with some of covering teaching,I’m not against authority and since returning to drugs,fornication and lawlessness,I long to be back undercover.Tis true my offence led me to rebel and evil authorities are not justified as abusers,yet if we submit under harsh/unjust treatment Christ is glorified.The King’s heart is also in the hand of the Lord and He directs it where He wisheth.God is Sovereign,yet we must challenge false teachers/teachings.Since comprehending grace,God’s light made the darkness manifest.Religeon is the curse of the church.We inherit centuries of lies and falsity.Dead works cannot save us,yet those done from faith in Christ alone though,not they,for they evidence/accompany true faith.The problem is,that when we first come to Jesus,the Spirit leads us.John stated,they needn’t be taught,for the Spirit had perfected them.So much disciplship is wasted.A leader’s job is to oversee and encourage.They like Muslims seem to believe another comforter is needed.The important thing is that our faith remains in Jesus alone,with our boast.If we claim we are sinless,we lie and the truth ain’t in usx.It all goes TA when works of superiorigation are added.The cross is our only gate.We need loving authorities though and if they do a Peter,we must confront them like Paul with the truth.Whatever they believe they are,they are at the very least a brother in need.After all leaders influence churches and preach gospels.We and they must make sure they are teaching,living and believing the correct ONE!!

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