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elders of the assembly there to come and   the sheep. An elder is to be “apt to teach,”
        meet with him at Miletus. They were re-  and the soul with a true shepherd heart
        sponsible as overseers for one assembly   will know the needs of the flock best.
        in one particular place, Ephesus, and   Thus, Paul charged the Ephesian elders
        nowhere else.                         to “feed the church of God” (Act 20:28).
        What Is He Accountable For?           Guarding the Sheep
          The most prominent picture of a leader   Paul also warned the elders to “take
        in an assembly is that of a shepherd and   heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all
        a flock for which he, with others, has   the flock” (v28). To “take heed” is to be on
        responsibility. Sheep by nature are way-  guard, beware, or pay careful attention to.
        ward, vulnerable animals, almost impos-  There are grievous wolves who would not
        sible to train and often a prey to devouring   spare the flock, and the shepherd needs
        wolves. Their welfare is a very onerous   to be ever diligent for the safekeeping of
        task that can only be adequately fulfilled   the sheep both from without and within.
        by a person who cares for them (1Ti 3:5)
        and has the experience and ability to do   Watching Over the Sheep
        so. There are several functions for which a   If the guarding of the sheep has primar-
        shepherd will be responsible and account-  ily an external focus (because of enemies
        able to the Chief Shepherd. These will be   who would destroy), watching over the
        dealt with more thoroughly elsewhere in   sheep has more an internal focus, on the
        this issue, so a brief mention in the context   conduct of the sheep. In Hebrews, saints
        of accountability will suffice here.  are charged to obey and be submissive to
        Leading the Sheep                     those who lead or go before them (13:17).
          The Lord gave a picture of such leading   Thus the conduct of the sheep can de-
        when He, speaking of the true Shepherd,   termine if the shepherds, when giving
        said, “When he putteth forth his own   account, do so with joy or grief.
        sheep, he goeth before them, and the   Rescuing or Recovery of the Sheep
        sheep follow him” (Joh 10:4). Again, in   Sheep at times do wander and need to
        Psalm 23:2-3 we see that the shepherd   be rescued. In Matthew 18:12, the Lord
        “leadeth me beside the still waters” and   spoke of the shepherd who “goeth into
        “he leadeth me in the paths of righteous-  the mountains, and seeketh that which
        ness.” Thus, the Chief Shepherd leaves the   is gone astray.” He added in verse 13 (“if
        perfect example of guiding and directing   so be that he find it”) that there will be
        the sheep.                            cause for rejoicing over a lost and now
        Feeding the Sheep                     rescued sheep.
          The  shepherd  is  responsible  for  the   Thus, the elders in an assembly have an
        dietary needs of the sheep and lambs and   onerous and oftentimes lonely task that
        thus should be able to bring the sheep into   requires great exercise of heart, wisdom,
        pastures convenient to their changing   patience and prayer. They will, like all of
        needs. The elders cannot delegate that re-  us, have to “give account of himself to
        sponsibility to visiting deacons; they must   God“ (Rom 14:12)  and “receive the things
        remember that they are still accountable   done in his body, according to that he hath
        for the proper and appropriate feeding of   done” (2Co 5:10).

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