The heart of a shepherd beats for the sheep. He is willing to sacrifice greatly for them (see John 10:11). The “what” of shepherding is laid out in Scripture in many places, but the “how” is not always clear. For example, having regularly scheduled elders’ meetings is not biblically mandated, but in our busy day it is a wise thing. That’s a “how” of being an elder.
There is no job description that can adequately cover the task. It is a colossal misjudgment for a man to become an elder based on whether on not he can fulfill a detailed list of responsibilities. Being an elder is something inner-driven. Unlike secular leadership, this is not a matter of personal character, charisma or strength. The only biblical inner-driven entity is the Holy Spirit.
I am increasingly aware that any leadership that is not energized by the heart of God working through the Holy Spirit, is not true spiritual leadership.
To be sure, many churches are led by pastors, elders, or deacons who are great leaders using very effective means for organizing and administering the church affairs. However, I remember from my early days of new life in Christ an older brother and teacher of the Word emphasizing ad infinitum (and at the time I naively thought, ad nauseum) that the church is not an organization, but an organism. That is much more apparent to me now than when I was younger. The church is not just a parallel to what the world does in corporations, charities, volunteers groups—nor is it just a big “self-help” institution.
So our ministry is not simply to give people tools or “how to’s” for living. It is to help them connect with an infinite God, a loving Shepherd who continuously and supernaturally changes our lives As shepherds our task is to continue leading the flock to the life-giving waters and to help them drink deeply. That’s the heart of a spiritual shepherd! That’s not a “how,” but a “what.” Oh, Lord, give me the heart of a true shepherd!