By David Francis and Ken Braddy
This is part 2 of an ongoing series of blogs unpacking the main points of 3 Roles for Guiding Groups by David Francis and Ken Braddy. In Part 1, we introduced the 3 roles: teacher, shepherd, and leader. This week, we’ll look at the requirements for each role.
The primary requirements for fulfilling the role of teacher is a love for the Bible, a desire to understand what God is saying through His Word, and a sense of calling to communicate that to others so that they understand and obey it. The emphasis is on what God is saying. A great example of this kind of person is Ezra. He “determined in his heart to study the law of the LORD, obey it, and teach its statutes and ordinances in Israel” (Ezra 7:10, HCSB). Here the word study means “to tread frequently, as in pursuit” and is a picture of someone who loved God’s Word so much he studied it until he caught the full meaning. The word teach in this verse comes from a Hebrew word meaning “to goad.” Ezra studied God’s Word and once he understood it, urged the people to obey it just as he had. Do you have the same kind of passion for God’s Word as Ezra? We hope so!
Perhaps you’ve read James 3:1 and it startled you. When the brother of Jesus and pastor of the Jerusalem church warned, “Not many should become teachers…,” he was exhorting his readers to be careful about sharing their own opinions rather than God’s Word (pg. 12).
We can think of three requirements of shepherds in the Bible, and those same requirements are still in effect today for those of us who lead Bible study groups:
1. Love for the sheep. Sheep were not typically raised for their meat in Bible times, but for their wool and milk. A flock might be less than twelve sheep, and the shepherd would be with them constantly for the majority of their natural lives. Shepherds usually named their sheep, knew their personalities, and called them by name. As shepherds of people, how much more should we know our people’s names, their stories, their needs, and how God is transforming them?
2. Constant vigilance. David fought off bears and lions in his role as a shepherd (1 Sam. 17:34-37). Predators like wolves, jackals, and hyenas were a constant menace to shepherds, as were robbers. A shepherd had to remain on guard constantly. Likewise, you must remain constantly on guard for the things that harm your group members. Always ready to fight for them. Always on the lookout for the Evil One and his schemes that destroy lives.
3. Sense of stewardship. Shepherds were not the owners of the sheep, but were stewards for an owner. As such, they were accountable for each of the sheep in their care. Perhaps this is why a shepherd would risk his life to rescue a sheep (or its remains) from the mouth of a wild animal (Amos 3:12). The shepherd was responsible for the life of each of the sheep entrusted to him. As shepherds, we are entrusted with God’s precious people, and we should have a strong sense that we are personally responsible to God for them. The members of your group belong to Him. You’re the shepherd (pg. 22).
We can think of four requirements for those of us who lead Bible study groups:
The first requirement is accepting and embracing the role of leader. Accepting the role means mentally agreeing that you are the leader of your group. Embracing that role, however means that you move beyond simply accepting it to proactively doing the things necessary to move your group members to action.
A second requirement is that you know the mission your group is supposed to accomplish. A third requirement is a servant mindset. Jesus told His disciples that if they wanted to be great in His kingdom, they would position themselves as servants of the people around them.
A fourth requirement is godly character. It is impossible to genuinely lead a group if you are not living the Word (pp. 28-29).
Excerpt from 3 Roles for Guiding Groups by David Francis and Ken Braddy. Click here for a free copy of the book.