Who’s Under Whose Authority? (Post by Tom)

I have a dilemma.  Both Steve and I come from theological backgrounds where most of “our” churches have “Elder-run Boards”.  We can always debate the soundness of that.  And there are days when I totally wish I served on a “Pastor-run Board.”  OK—whatever your conviction: different strokes for different folks.  But now I am in a situation where our church is grooming a young man who will become the permanent Sr. Pastor.  (For the record, my only title at the church where I’ve served for about three years now, is “Interim Pastor).  My slogan—which I’ve used before the congregation is: “He must increase; I must decrease”.  I can now only say “Easier said than done!”  In reality it is very difficult to turn loose of power and authority.

I was thinking about all of this when I came across the passage in I Peter 5, where he addresses the elders (or shepherds).  Verses 1-3 address character qualities and warnings of what to avoid.  And then comes verse 4: “And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.”  Elsewhere he addresses elders and pastors as “Under-shepherds”.  Jesus is the Chief Shepherd.  We are Under-Shepherds.  Hmm.  That puts everything in perspective.  And then Peter continues (in I Peter 5):  Verse 5 says “Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older.  All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’”

The reality is: we’re all under the authority of the Chief Shepherd.  And that makes us ALL (no matter our age or rank) Under-Shepherds.  The next time my flesh rises up to have bad feelings, I will try to remember that.

How about you?  Do you ever struggle on the authority issue?


1 thought on “Who’s Under Whose Authority? (Post by Tom)

  1. The interesting thing about these “terms” is that Elder, Overseer (Sometimes translated, Bishop), and Shepherds (Translated Pastor) all appear in Acts 20 and all referring to the same guys. For a long time I didn’t like being referred to as a “Pastor” as that technically also referred to elders. But a wise man once noted that I’m really doing the job of a pastor and often “elders” do not. Usually I just go by “Steve” as that’s what God calls me. But I can accept the term if need be.

    There are some good thoughts there on church polity. But your main point is huge and helpful in remembering that we are all “undersheperds.”



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