SHEPHERDING GOD'S FLOCK
Jesus tried to show by modelling to His disciples that there was a different way to achieve leadership. He modelled a leadership of love, gentleness, and humility.
The pastoral role of the Good Shepherd, demonstrates Jesus’ ministry of care. Amongst other important theological issues and principles, John 3:16 declares the pastor-heart of God:
(He) so loved … that He gave … (the most costly gift of all).
Leadership roles in society cover a vast range of occupations; and stereotyped job descriptions in traditional roles will not eliminate the need to clarify specific leadership roles for today both in society and also in the church. Otherwise leadership and ministry covers so many people that nothing definitive can be concluded, and all are “ministers” without definition.
In order to gain correct balance and perspective, let it be stated that:
"There is nothing that I do (as a pastor) that could not also be done by any other person, male or female (in most instances)".
The degree of success or otherwise will depend on the individual ability, experience, etc. However, I have no special dispensation to preach, counsel, baptise, lead a service, etc. that resides in me by divine right or apostolic conferral. Of course, it may not be appropriate for just anybody to lead a service, or preside at communion, or counsel in a particular situation.
Two thirteen-year-old young people might be able to get married, but that does not mean that they should. It may not be appropriate.
The issue is not simply ability or function (whether to perform a baptism or to have physical relationships at thirteen) but involves order, appropriateness and responsibility as well as the issue of calling.
I will attempt, therefore, recognizing these factors, to make clarifications concerning:
1. The pastoral role (the ministry of elders)
2. The complementary role of deacons
3. The role of women as women
4. Ordination and Accreditation
6. The role of women in ministry
a. The ministry of women
b. The “ordination” of women
I believe it is necessary to have the clarifications suggested above because there is an increasing need for pastoral-type ministry that involves the special contribution of women. Single-parent families, separated partners, unmarried mothers, female depression (right across social class and age groups) are all on the increase and often it is more appropriate for male pastoral ministry to be supplemented by female pastoral ministry (to females) than for pastoral care to be limited to males.
Hence, I believe it would be very short-sighted to look at concepts of leadership, and in particular eldership, without carefully defining frames of reference. Hence we need to look briefly at the leadership role of women, especially as it relates to eldership. And we need to define roles as they are relevant to ministry today, whilst at the same time carefully respecting the eternal and unchanging principles of the Word of God.
The role of women must be addressed carefully and properly, but it cannot be treated in isolation from their created order and being.
Function and relationship is part of that order, and we shall draw attention to this as necessary.
We shall also look at the correct structure from creation, especially as it relates to the “ordination of women” as Paul addresses this fundamental matter.
The issue of leadership roles involving women, relates to authority structures. And since truth never contradicts truth, we must examine potentially conflicting roles for women, as they relate to authority structures. There must be no conflict.
In God's created order, no individual authority structure will contradict another authority structure. Therefore we are not at liberty to hypothesize: "Surely God is free to give gifts to whoever ... ”, if this is to contradict Himself. God cannot contradict Himself.