V 28 “So guard yourselves and God’s people. Feed and shepherd God’s flock—his church, purchased with his own blood—over which the Holy Spirit has appointed you as leaders.”
Here is one way in which the Holy Spirit encourages a company of Christian people – he equips and appoints leaders for them. Leadership is not simply a question of having a good degree and leadership training. Nor is it a matter of a democratic majority vote in an election. Rather it is learning to recognise who the Holy Spirit is raising up for the task. Neither local congregations nor denominational groups appoint leaders; they only try to recognise those whom the Holy Spirit is calling out for such work.
The leaders to whom Paul is speaking in this chapter are seen as having three distinct functions – to guard, to feed and to shepherd. Interestingly enough his first instruction is to look after themselves; it is only as they themselves are secure that they will be able to look after others.
Fulfilling these functions in the Church has never been easy, but the spiritual quality of leadership and care is vitally important if the Church is to flourish. The other side of this equation is equally important; those of us who are being led have to accept the leadership of those appointed by the Holy Spirit. The writer of the letter to Hebrews is clear about that! ‘Remember your leaders who taught you the word of God. Think of all the good that has come from their lives, and follow the example of their faith.’
(Hebrews 13:7) AND ‘Obey your spiritual leaders, and do what they say. Their work is to watch over your souls, and they are accountable to God. Give them reason to do this with joy and not with sorrow. That would certainly not be for your benefit.’ (Hebrews 13:17)