Author: Ron Graham
Older People as Shepherds
—The role of elders in the community, church, and nation
We continue our lessons on shepherds and sheep. Last lesson we looked at how the Bible sees a need for people to have shepherds to lead them, and we talked about the role of parents as shepherds of their children, and the role of children in accepting parental leadership. Now we look at some other shepherding roles.
1 Older People as Shepherds
Young people often think that older folk are over the hill and around the bend, and that's where they'll be led if they follow the wisdom and advice of a wrinkly. Admittedly, older people can be pretty stupid at times. They don't always know what's best, and they often have much to learn and little inclination to learn it. On the other hand, young people need shepherds, and their peers don't often make very good shepherds.
In our communities, there is a great need for elders who are able to perform a shepherding role, and to be respected in that role.
- Job 32:9 "Great men are not always wise, nor do the aged always understand justice."
- Titus 2:2-3 "Teach the older men to be sober, worthy of respect, self controlled, sound in faith, love, and patience. The older women likewise... train the younger women..."
- 1Peter 5:5 "Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you clothe yourselves with humility."
- Proverbs 20:29 "The glory of young men is their strength, and the beauty of old men is their grey head."
2 Shepherds in the Church
Jesus requires his church to be led by shepherds —something about which the majority of churches are remarkably amiss.
- 1Peter 5:1-5 "I exhort elders among you... shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion but voluntarily, according to the will of God... proving to be examples to the flock..."
3 Our Nation's Leaders
We have been talking about examples of shepherding at the grass roots. But let us now think on a national scale, and consider the leadership of our nation. We are fortunate in Australia to have a variety of institutions, each with its own head to provide governance and leadership of state and nation. God sets a standard for the shepherds of a nation, and this is expressed in his word to the shepherds of Israel. The examples below are very negative and condemnatory, but they show the responsibility which God binds upon the leaders of a nation. Hopefully the shepherds of our nation, Australia, will be far more responsible than were the shepherds of Israel...
- Isaiah 1:4 "Alas a sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity"
- Jeremiah 7:28 "This is a nation that has not obeyed its God the Lord... Truth has perished"
- Jeremiah 25: 34ff, 50:6 "Wail, shepherds, and cry ...because of the fierce anger of the Lord. He has left his lair like the lion. My people have been lost sheep. Their shepherds have led them astray"
- Ezekiel 34:2 "Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel. Say to them, 'Thus says the Lord God to the shepherds: Woe to the shepherds of Israel who feed themselves!"
- Zechariah 10:2 "For the idols speak delusion, the diviners see visions that are lies, the dreams they tell are false. The comfort they give is vanity. Therefore the people wander around like sheep. They have troubles because there is no shepherd."