The Minister is an Overseer. Regardless of your ecclesiology, there is a static expectation in the Scripture that churches have overseers that pay careful attention to the flanks. The job of overseer implies that a man of impeccable character, known first for guarding himself from error, will give himself for the people under his charge. Many pastors have supposed that their flocks 1)belong to them and 2)should be a certain way when they get to them. The sense I get is that pastors expect their flock to provide them with certain attitudes, compensation, and results. While the flock is expected to provide the shepherd with his livelihood, it is not the same as expecting to walk into a reciprocal relationship.
Pastors have to lead. No church is where it could be in maturity. But maturity is the long-term game while growth is the short term expectation. An overseer leads the flock to feed through preaching the Scripture. Paul commands first that overseers pay attention to themselves. They are to compare their motives, their intentions, their attitudes, their sinfulness, and their doctrine to the Scriptures. The question they ask is whether they are inclined to the expectations of God or their own. Paul extols the virtue of self-sacrifice and watchful maintenance. God’s overseers are compelled to the position by the Holy Spirit for the purposes of the Lord’s plan. That said, regardless of the circumstance or the daunting nature of the church condition, the Holy Spirit compels you. If you are not a man of faith prior to your calling, you are not called (1 Tim 3:6).
Paul also expresses his concern that some overseers could become the wolves that assault the flock. The assault comes from twisted teaching. Persistent attention to one’s doctrine is the expectation of God for the overseer. Overseers are lifetime learners and long-term watchers. The assault of the external wolves can quickly become an internal assault. Because of such a risk – need I discuss Church Growth Movement – overseers must focus their attention on the spiritual to escape the temptations of the physical. Likewise, the overseer scatters the flock when he becomes a reprobate. He must guard against sexual and character failure through a life of repentance.
The expectation of God is to bring him glory in all matter of life and ministry. The overseer most of all must maintain this focus. Through this conviction he will exclude himself from many a faulty endeavor, discern many a foolish motive, and repent often from many a haywire action. An overseer cannot be perfect nor nesecarily more holy than those in his charge, but he can set the example by pressing for God glory and exalting Christ as the end of all things. Such a man finds the study of Scripture both a labor and a pleasure. He finds himself under the conviction of his own sermon being the first in the congregation to face the conviction of God’s Word. Only after facing the trial of conviction is he spiritually equipped to deliver his message. He is at one time a man of God and an example of faith.
What God’s Expecting: An exposition of Acts 20:17-38
- What does God expect from a minister?
- God expects you to be a man of God – pay attention to yourself – Acts 20:28
i. Be alert to your tendency
ii. Be alert for the tendency of the people
- God expects you to be an overseer – Care or pastor the flock – Acts 20:28
- What does God expect in regards to the office you hold?
- Self-sacrifice with or without money – Acts 20:19
- Fearless proclamation as a way of life – Acts 20:20
- Exemplary testimony to whomever experiences your life – Acts 20:21
- What is the outline of the overseer’s job?
- To teach sound doctrine – also 2 Tim 4:2
- To fend off wolves – 4:3
- To not become a wolf teaching twisted doctrines – Acts 20:30