Beware of Slacking Shepherds, Godless Pastors, and Misleading Ministers
The prophet Jeremiah doesn’t just warn the people about judgment for their sins, he also warns their religious leaders too. The twenty-third chapter of the book of Jeremiah details three leadership failures. Most troublesome is the third item about misleading ministers.
Everyone in leadership should heed Jeremiah’s cautionary words and seek God’s help to avoid repeating these errors.
1. Slacking Shepherds
Jeremiah proclaims woe to the shepherds (a metaphor for religious leaders) because they fail to take care of the sheep (a metaphor for God’s people). The prophet gives three examples to demonstrate the shepherds’ failure.
First, they have scattered the sheep. Second, they have driven the lambs away. Third, they have neglected to care for their flock.
God pledges to punish these failed shepherds. Then he will replace them with good ones (Jeremiah 23:11-12).
2. Godless Pastors
Next, Jeremiah condemns godless prophets and priests. Imagine that. These men should represent God to his people, but they don’t. Even in the temple (the church building), God finds them full of wickedness.
He promises to banish them to the darkness, where they will fall. He proclaims disaster for them (Jeremiah 23:11-12).
3. Misleading Ministers
Jeremiah continues rebuking prophets who proclaim lies. They fill the people with false hope. These religious leaders don’t have the mind of God. They don’t hear what the Lord says. Instead, they make up things to tell the people (Jeremiah 23:16-17).
In short, they fail to speak God’s truth.
God’s punishment for these misleading ministers is that he will forget them and cast them from his presence (Jeremiah 23:39).
This issue of misleading ministers happens today at too many churches, albeit with a modern twist. Preachers speak what the people want to hear and not what the Bible says. They avoid proclaiming the parts of God’s Word that may upset their congregation.
They water down the good news of Jesus by removing what may offend. Instead of speaking biblical truth, they substitute it with nice sounding messages of their own making that delights listeners, avoids confrontation, and minimizes conflict.
God wasn’t pleased in Jeremiah’s day by the leaders who did this. And he is not pleased today.
Our preachers today must listen to God and teach what he and his Word says. We don’t need any more slacking shepherds, godless pastors, or misleading ministers.
We need leaders who will speak God’s truth regardless of what the world thinks or how their congregation reacts.
We need leaders who will speak God’s truth regardless of what the world thinks or how their congregation responds.
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.