God has standards for His under-shepherds, those whom He has placed in a position of special care and service, special instruction, special leadership and even special authority over portions of His flock. Praise God many men get this picture. They understand the balance between leadership and lordship as well as the balance between service and servitude. I believe all of God’s chosen under-shepherds fail at some point to achieve these balances for the sheep. However, many are out there whom have openly displayed a complete lacking of understanding in their position. The temple leadership in the days of Christ are perfect examples of this lacking understanding.
In John 10:5 and 6 we get an idea of what it must be like for a false teacher, false leader, false under-shepherd, false testimony in Christ to face the challenge of Jesus pointing out His expectations and because of worldly influence completely missing the mark. They simply cannot understand that the mark of the under-shepherd must first be dominated by humility, not hubris. You can hear them saying to themselves, what, serve the people; rescue the people; work for the people? Jesus asks, what do all those people need? They need a shepherd, not a slave driver.
Pharisees and Scribes were driving the people with whips of rules and legalism toward a false purity, a purity they could never achieve but must depend upon God’s justice as a loving redeemer. (Job 19:25) The hope is in the Father in Heaven, not in man’s abilities. Job knew that. David knew that. Every prophet knew that. Though the Pharisees, Scribes, and Chief Priests for that matter read the scriptures, they never understood. They assumed they were leaders, they are the authority, their position was one of rulership, not servanthood. The people were below them. They tell the people what the scriptures say. The people are there only to do what the rulership dictates so that Israel can return to godly glory and be removed from the oppression of Rome. These rulers completely missed their calling and this is why we find them openly saying they cannot understand what Jesus is talking about.
Many popular false teachers today have gone the other way. Instead of taking a leadership position with a proper balance of encouraging compassion and servanthood, these false teachers let the sheep dictate their feed and drink, their place and position. They feed the sheep the sweetest grass but lay aside the less sweet but more nutritious grassy plains because the sheep do not care to feed there.
Do you understand Jesus’s picture as an under-shepherd? Leadership through servanthood without oppressive dictatorial mandates. Love His sheep the way He loves them, not for gain but for His approval and glory.