Perhaps Psalm 23 is the most beloved passage in the entire Bible, yea, within all of literature. Certainly it is a passage that has gone into every corner of the globe. It is special because of what it conveys, what it produces and what it means to our lives. The infamous psalm begins with the words, “The Lord is my shepherd” (Psa. 23:1). What fascinates me is that the author (David) was a shepherd himself. As we are historically introduced to him in First Samuel 16, the prophet Samuel is at the home of Jesse to anoint the next king. As he has viewed the seven oldest sons of Jesse, God reveals to him that He has chosen none of them. Samuel asks Jesse, “Are here all thy children?” Jesse responds, “There remaineth yet the youngest, and, behold, he keepeth the sheep” (1 Sam. 16:11). In the next chapter, we again see him tending to the sheep of his father (cf. 1 Sam. 17:15-20). Before he prepares to fight Goliath, we gain an insight to his life and dangers of shepherding when he recalls to Saul the times when he protected the sheep from both a lion and a bear (1 Sam. 17:34-37). Several passages thereafter will refer to God calling David from his role of shepherding to be king after Saul (cf. 2 Sam. 7:8; Psa. 78:70). Therefore, what is significant is that this excellent shepherd realized that he himself needed a shepherd, and thus proclaimed, “The Lord is my shepherd.” The same is true even within the church today.
Teachers should say, “The Lord is my teacher.” All teachers, no matter how resourceful or excellent their skills, need Jesus to be their Master Teacher! The role of teachers is vital within the church, and all teachers can look to Jesus as their Supreme Role Model, just as David did in the role of shepherding. Christ manifested humility through His teachings (Matt. 11:28-30), and teachers should develop humility by looking to Jesus. When He taught, he exuded love to His disciples (John 13:1-13; 15:13). In like manner, teachers ought to love their students! As a teacher, He was unselfish with His time (cf. Mark 6:34-36), and teachers ought to look to Him and see their need to be unselfish with their time. In addition, He understood the worth of a single student, taking the time to teach Nicodemus, Zacchaeus, the rich young ruler, the Samaritan woman at the well and such like. In like manner, teachers need not to overlook the worth of a single student as they view their role over their entire class. Just as Jesus incorporated epigrams, questions and answers, object lessons and parables to his students, teachers may incorporate a number of methods and illustrations within their teaching.
Preachers should say, “The Lord is my preacher.” I know that many preachers have their favorite preacher to whom they refer as “my preacher.” Maybe it was the preacher who was influential in their youth. Maybe it was the preacher who taught and/or baptized them. Maybe it was the preacher who helped mold and influence them through their teaching and training. Maybe it is simply an older preacher who provides a good role model for us. Yet, the point is this—all preachers look to another preacher and say, “That is my preacher!” In this way, preachers should ultimately look to Jesus and say, “The Lord is my preacher.” Indeed, He is the Master Preacher! As our role model, He was impartial in His preaching. Mark records, “And the common people heard him gladly” (Mark 12:37). As our role model, He lived in perfect harmony with that which He preached (Acts 1:1; 1 Pet. 2:21-24). In like manner, preachers ought always to practice what they preach. As our role model, He knew the needs of the people to whom He preached (Matt. 19:21; Acts 1:24), and preachers need to recognize what the congregation needs.
Elders should say, “The Lord is my elder.” Since elders are given the role of overseeing and tending the flock (cf. Acts 20:28), the term “elder” is synonymous with the term “bishop” or “shepherd.” Thus, an inspired elder already made such a reference to this point at hand: “And when the Chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away” (1 Pet. 5:4). The Hebrew writer refers to Jesus as “that great shepherd of the sheep” (cf. Heb. 13:20). Therefore, all elders/shepherds should realize that they need an elder/shepherd themselves—the Chief Shepherd, Jesus Christ! In this way, they realize that they are not to become “lords over God’s heritage,” but rather serve as wonderful examples before the flock (cf. 1 Pet. 5:3). While elders carry a very serious responsibility, they humbly need to realize that Jesus provides a great role model for them as well.
All Christians may appreciate the same sentiment as David when he professed, “The Lord is my shepherd,” but may all who carry some special role within the church look to our Lord as our role model through our service to Him!