In an hour where the Apostolic and Prophetic are being restored to their rightful place in the church, many are making the mistake of diminishing the role of a shepherd. However, the function of true apostles does not reduce but rather enhances the role of shepherding within the ekklesia.
We must allow the Holy Spirit to help us redefine this five-fold gifting within the church back to its original intent. We must move beyond the systemic paradigms of denominationalism’s definition of the busy pastor and once again recapture the heart of the shepherd boy in Bethlehem. Although he was never entirely accepted by his own family, rejected by Saul, this shepherd boy with a harp and slingshot found his way to the throne.
The shepherd’s work is not valued in a day where we have embraced a conference model, highlighting gifted communicators to astonish crowds with their fresh insight. This model has taught a generation to live off the thrills of Christian entertainment rather than being planted in an Acts church community of family that gathers around the Presence of God, is equipped by fathers, and is called to live their life rooted in devotion to Jesus daily.
No wonder the role of the shepherd is so devalued among leaders. Who wants to be the person who gives their life to one city, one people, day-in and day-out? Who wants to get their hands dirty among the flock when they could work their craft of preaching, travel, be featured on the conference poster without the personal responsibility to raise sons? This
conference model has promoted an ambitious culture that thrives off man’s applause, causing many leaders to exchange the humility of shepherds like David for the flashy armor of a political King like Saul. One produced a legacy that will last forever, while the other had a life of torment struggling to enhance his destiny.
My story is one that was called from the flashiness of conference Christianity to take a journey back to original intent, in hopes to see the apostolic nature of the church restored. For nearly ten years, I traveled our nation, preaching 42 weekends out of the year while being given the title of “pastor” in a ministry center model driven by conferences. The excitement of gathering people, hosting meetings, and experiencing the anointing of God caused people to move to be apart.
The flock that gathered initially was excited to be there and play their part as a volunteer. But eventually, the wear and tear of being the driving force of services took a toll, and needs began to emerge. There was a cry among the people who couldn’t be satisfied with the conference messages or by giving them a position to serve. It was the cry for a father, a pastor, to be joined to a family and experiencing revival.
How could I help when my title was a mockery of the actual function? Because of my extensive travel itinerary, having a wife, and three children, my office time existed to prepare messages for the people. I had no time to share my life, only to share sermons honestly. Knowing the need for a shepherd but only being valued as a preacher created a prison around my original intent, which ultimately robbed the people of authentic Biblical community.
I blame no one for this struggle; we were doing what the system had taught us to do. However, the internal conflict it caused me within took a toll on my physical and mental health, not to mention that I had to stare into the face of people who knew that even though we saw growth, something was wrong with the wineskin.
How do you shepherd people you don’t have time to be with? How do you effectively shepherd without being joined to the proper government of an apostle? None of these issues are solved by programs and systems, but rather by asking Holy Spirit to realign the hearts of true shepherds to see the Presence of God restored to our churches and cities.
Someone will have to reject the flashiness of Saul’s personality cult to see shepherd-kings positioned to restore the Presence of God to our cities.
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