Paying Attention to the Flock of God
“PAY attention to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the holy spirit has appointed you overseers, to shepherd the congregation of God.” Never was this counsel more fitting than now, in this “the Lord’s day.”—Acts 20:28; Rev. 1:10.a
Overseers have a great responsibility by reason of their being appointed by the holy spirit. In what way did it appoint them? In that by inspiration it has laid down the requirements for overseers. Also, in that it matures Christians to be qualified to serve as overseers, and, further, in that those making appointments are guided by it.—1 Tim. 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9.
Impressing upon all overseers the importance of paying attention to the flock of God, as well as guiding them in doing so, are the further words of Paul at Acts 20:17-35, as well as those of Peter at 1 Peter 5:1-3. Particularly fitting for all overseers living in our apocalyptic times are the messages recorded by John at Revelation, chapters two and three, in which the overseers are likened to seven angels or messengers and to stars in Christ’s right hand, and the congregations to seven lampstands. If the lampstands are to shed forth their light, the overseers must properly discharge their duties. Incidentally, although John’s messages have direct application to the spirit-begotten and anointed Christians, the principles involved apply to all those of the other sheep.
The conditions in the seven congregations mentioned picture conditions that may obtain in Christian congregations today, and in each instance the overseer has a message to give regarding it. Have some, like those in Ephesus, cooled off? Then let the overseer go out and bring back the straying ones and rekindle their first love. Are some suffering severe opposition and bitter persecution, as those in Smyrna? Then, you overseers, encourage them to faithful endurance with the hope that Jehovah holds out to integrity keepers. Are there some who would bring in Pergamum-like modern phallicism or cause divisions, as did the sect of Nicolaus? If so, the overseers must be alert to combat such tendencies on the part of any. Is there the Thyatira or Jezebel spirit, that of women trying to dominate the congregation, inducing others to sexual immorality or being selfishly ambitious? Then, in the interests of theocratic rule and pure worship, the overseers must strongly warn the sisters against manifesting such tendencies.
Then again, should the overseer find a Sardis-like moribund condition, he must try to bring the spiritually dead ones to life by urging them to personal study, meeting attendance and field ministry. To those faithfully enduring, as did brothers in Philadelphia, let the overseers give encouragement to hold fast, that they lose not their reward. And finally, strong words are directed against those of Laodicea, those spiritually blind, naked, poor and lukewarm. Let the overseers stir up all such to become either refreshingly cold or stimulatingly hot, by renewed zeal, to become rich in right works, to put on their garments of identification by sharing in the ministry and to anoint their eyes with the eyesalve of the truths taught and the mental disposition manifested by Jesus.
How much there is to which the overseers must pay attention! What great responsibility is theirs in these apocalyptic times! Let each one of us co-operate with our overseer both by setting a good example ourselves and by assisting him in his efforts to remedy these conditions.
a For details see The Watchtower, January 15, 1958.