The Best Pastor

Read: 1 Peter 5:1-5

Shepherd the flock of God that is among you. (v. 2)

When preaching professor Fred Craddock was asked to name the best preacher in North America, he answered, “The local pastor.” Why? Because as a shepherd, the local pastor “knows the sheep and tempers the wind to the shorn lamb.” No outside voice can tend the flock the way a shepherd can. We all need a shepherd in our life who knows us, cares for us, and will lead us where we need to go.

“Shepherd” is a leadership image throughout Scripture. David famously called the Lord his shepherd in Psalm 23. In Jeremiah, God promised to give the people shepherds “after my own heart” (Jer. 3:15). Jesus called himself the “good shepherd” in John 10. When Peter exhorted leaders as shepherds, he did so as a witness to the sufferings of our shepherd Messiah (v. 1) and exposed the difference between a Jesus-modeling shepherd and authoritarian leaders that fill our world. Shepherds served as servants who loved the sheep and were not eager for wealth (v. 2). Shepherds did not lead through power but through example (v. 3). That all sounds a lot like the humility of Jesus.

Pastoring can be hard. People sometimes want a strong leader but more often need a shepherd. In 2017, I transitioned from being a shepherd to being a sheep. More than once, I’ve needed my shepherd to give me the right word in season, wisdom in uncertainty, and courage to keep following. Thanks be to God for good shepherds. —Jon Opgenorth

As you pray, ask God to encourage the shepherds in your church.

About the Author

Rev. Jon Opgenorth serves as president of Words of Hope. Previously, he served for 18 years as senior pastor at Trinity Reformed Church in Orange City, Iowa. In preparation for ministry, he received a BA in Religion from Northwestern College, and an MDiv from Fuller Theological Seminary.

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