Worship and Shepherd

2013 Austin Stone Worship Conference

In this 36-minute session from the 2013 Austin Stone Worship Conference, Tony Merida breaks down some incorrect assumptions about both pastors and worship leaders, giving nine biblical exhortations from 1 Peter 5:1–5 for pastors and worship leaders alike. Tony is founding pastor of Imago Dei Church in Raleigh, NC. He also serves as Associate Professor of Preaching at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He has authored several books and is an editor for the Christ-Centered Exposition commentary series.

1 Peter 5:1-5 (ESV)

Shepherd the Flock of God

1So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed:2shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight,not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you;not for shameful gain, but eagerly;3not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.4And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.5Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Tony gave 9 exhortations from the passage above:
  1. Shepherd with other shepherds
    Lead with a plurality of other leaders. Don't be isolated in your ministry.
  2. Savor what you're singing (or preaching)
    Make sure you're buying what you're selling. If you are not enjoying the grace of the Lord, you cannot proclaim it persuasively.
  3. Supply soul-nourishing truth to people
    You feed them with God's Word. It is good for sheep to feel love, but your primary role as shepherd is to feed them.
  4. See the flock of God from God's perspective
    The church doesn't belong to you, it belongs to God. God grows us, changes us as we interact with the church.
  5. Smell like the sheep
    There can be a significant disconnect between shepherds and their people. Spend time with your people, know them.
  6. Stay alert
    A good shepherd is alert to the dangers of the flock. Beware of shady teaching, shoddy theology, and wolves.
  7. Stay away from sinful motives and actions
    Leadership is not lordship. Leadership is following Jesus and telling others to follow your example as you follow him.
  8. Stand in awe of the Good Shepherd
    Don't serve for an earthly reward. Serve in light of the fact that you'll see the Chief Shepherd one day.
  9. Seek grace through humility
    Shepherds should be humble people. Through humility we appropriate the grace of God necessary for shepherding.

How have you experienced the benefits of leading with others? What might it indicate when you have a desire to lead in isolation?
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Whether you are leading a song or preaching a sermon, how are you intentional about worshipping and enjoying God yourself? What happens if you don't lead or preach from an overflow of your own relationship with God?
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Tony stated that we need songs about the Church in this generation—not just songs about "me and Jesus," but about "we" the Church. How can you leverage the worship set you create or the sermon you write to emphasize the importance of the Church?
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Whether you serve in a small or large church, how do you stay connected to the people you are shepherding? What are some barriers that separate you from your congregation that you can work to take down? How will you accomplish that?
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What "sinful motivations" are you tempted to lead out of? How do you keep your motivations for shepherding pure?
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May God give us worship leaders who understand their role as shepherds and pastors who understand their role in bringing people to worship. Whether you are a worship leader or a pastor, seek to always point those you are leading to a rich theology and a rich doxology. 

For more resources from Austin Stone Worship and information on upcoming events, visit their website, www.austinstoneworship.com.