Whether you like it or not, whether you believe it or not, you ARE overseers of God’s flock, the local church. The role that you perform is inherently one of shepherding. Whether you have been recognized, ordained, installed, or named as an official church leader (with whatever titles your particular church uses: elder, pastor, deacon, etc.), all this is fairly inconsequential to the role and influence you already and actually have as worship leaders. Even if you’re “just the music guy (or gal),” you are the one who puts the words into the mouths of the congregation which they will speak back to God. You are the one who shapes and encourages how they sing (or don’t sing) those words. You are the one who, for probably 90% of them, provides them their only weekly opportunity to think and pray high thoughts about God. In other words, whether you like it or not, whether it’s right or not, you dictate their theological diet. You also have surprising control over how that diet tastes, or how that theology “feels.”
Is the good news about Christ and our being caught up in the life of the Trinity something that is celebrated in ecstatic joy? Or is it glossed over, because you’ve allowed the emotional climax of the service to peak at some other point (like how we’re feeling about God or what we’re doing for God)? Do you help lead the sheep to living water, or do you merely show them where the candy shop is? Is the thirst of their soul being quenched through a display of Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit, or are the teeth of their soul rotting because they’ve been too often chomping down on tasty but fleeting morsels of sugary entertainment?
As you plan worship services, do you pause to ask, “How does this disciple people in form and content?” Do you spend time with the people, outside your cliques? Do you love them, hear them, serve them, guard them, cherish them, pray for them, lead them? Are you aware of the wolves and lions? Are you scanning for them as you plan worship–blind spots, idols, weaknesses?
I was re-challenged by all these thoughts, which encourage me on good days and haunt me on bad days, when I read Paul’s near desperate plea to the Ephesians…the last time he would see them face to face:
Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men willl arize and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears. (Acts 20:28-31, NIV)