Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.Acts 20:28
The primary responsibility of an elder or pastor is to teach the Scriptures, to feed the flock. If he is not doing that, he is failing in his job, miserably. It is the truth that changes people. If the Scriptures are not being taught then people are not being changed. They are struggling in their own futile ways and nothing is being accomplished. So the primary job of elders and pastors is to set the whole counsel of God before the people.
They are to begin with themselves, says the apostle, i.e., they are to obey the truth which they themselves learn. This is where their authority comes from. It is only as they are obedient to the truth which they teach that they have any right to say anything to anyone else. Even the Lord Jesus operated on that basis. He said to his disciples on one occasion,
If I do not do the works of my Father, do not believe me... (John 10:37). That is, if what I am doing is not in exact accord with what I am saying, then don't believe me!
Would you dare say that to your children? Or to your Sunday school class? Or to others who observe you as a Christian?
If what I am doing is not in line with what I teach, then don't believe me. I have no authority over you; I have no power over you. But if your actions are in accord with your teaching then power is inherent in that obedience.
So these pastors and elders are to begin with themselves, and to teach the Word. Their responsibility is to the Holy Spirit, not to the denomination, nor to the congregation. It is the Spirit who has set them in that office and has equipped them with gifts. He who reads the heart is judging their lives, so it does not make any difference what anybody else thinks. They are responsible to follow the Holy Spirit in what he has given them to do.
Notice how he underscores the fact that theirs is a very precious ministry. It is to feed the church of the Lord. Nothing is more precious to God in all the world than the people of Christ, the body of Christ. The most valuable thing on earth, in God's sight, is his church. He gave himself for it, he loves it earnestly,
he purchased it with his own blood. Therefore it has highest priority in his schedule and emphasis. What concerns the church is the most important thing in the world today. I wish we could catch that picture as the apostle understood it.
Father, how grateful I am for your Word. How graciously it teaches me, especially through the other members of the body. Please protect and encourage all those you have called to teach your word.
The emphasis on teaching and obeying God's Word is critical to both private and public Christian witness. Are we instead trying to impress people with our credentials and skills? Do we need to reassess what is 'the main thing' in both our walk and our talk?