“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 will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them.” (Acts 20:28-30)
The Apostle Paul is sensing that as he moves closer and closer to Jerusalem, his life is getting closer and closer to its end. With that on his mind, his thoughts turn toward the church as a whole that he worked so hard to establish, and he comes out with a warning to all pastors and teachers of the Word. “Keep watch over yourselves.” We pastors tend to think that the flock is where all the potential dangers arise. Paul says in these verses that we as pastors need to keep watch over ourselves. We need to hold each other accountable in ministry so that we don’t become the problem. Paul even states that savage wolves will come “in among you.” He goes on to say, “Even from among your own number men will arise and distort the truth.” Paul is making it pretty clear that just because we are the pastors and teachers of the church doesn’t mean that we are invincible. We have to take every effort to ensure our own spiritual care. So here are a few suggestions I have:
First, we must always remember that the flock we serve is NOT our flock. It is God’s flock! Jesus is its Good Shepherd! The flock was purchased by His blood. We are stewards who have been placed in positions to care for Jesus’ flock. The Holy Spirit has called and gifted us to serve the flock as He leads us. Even as “overseers” we are part of the flock and under the rule and direction of Jesus the Good Shepherd. Second, we need to make sure that we remain true to the truth of God’s Word. Paul implies that the tool of the wolves is a distorted truth that leads people away from God’s truth. We must make sure that we are diligently committed to the truths of God’s Word. We need to be personally committed and obedient to God’s truths and then take on the task to disseminate that truth to the flock we serve. Last, I wish we were more of a brotherhood. Too many of us (including myself) live on pastoral islands. We live in isolation instead of living in fellowship with one another. How can we properly “keep watch over ourselves” if we aren’t in accountability relationships with one another? We need to rely on one another to keep our perspectives and priorities intact and our ministries moving in the right direction.
Is this only true for pastors and teachers? Of course not! Even as members of the flock we need to follow the three suggestions above so that we might stay focused on the Word of God and not be misled by the wolves when they arrive with their false teachings. May we all, pastors, teachers and sheep all together “keep watch over ourselves” so that we might boldly proclaim the truth of God’s Word to the world around us that so desperately needs to hear it.