“Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.” (Acts 20:28 ESV)
I'm preaching on this text tomorrow and in my preparation this past week the words spoke powerfully to me about my role as a pastor. That's a good thing, because I've learned that I generally don't preach very well until the word have touched my heart. This week's verses served as a great reminder of the blessing and necessity of spiritual oversight.
The Boston bombings this past week were a reminder of the threats to life that are always out there in our world. For a while, at least, we'll be a little more vigilant and observant. But what about spiritual danger? Who's keeping an eye on that threat? It's the overseers or pastors who have been entrusted with a flock or congregation. Just as you put youself under a doctor's care, follow your lawyer's counsel or an accountant's advice, God has given his church the gift of pastors, and we place ourselves under their spiritual care. I've often fallen into the pattern of simply providing spiritual goods and services rather than paying careful attention to those influences and ideas that draw people away from God's grace to self-righteousness, a path that leads away from God and eventually straight to hell.
If I forget my role as overseer, it quickly becomes about me, the people who come to hear me and those who join my church. But if this defines my task, it's all about Christ, who builds and gathers his church, pays the ultimate price to save it, and then protects it from danger through the word and sacrament ministry of pastors like me.