Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Acts 20:28 (NIV 1984)
Paul had called together the elders from the church at Ephesus for a final word of instruction and exhortation. In the passage above, he challenges them to “keep watch over yourselves” first and then to watch over the flock of God entrusted to them. The order is important!
Jesus, when washing the feet of His disciples the night before His crucifixion, instructs them, “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.” John 13:14 (NIV 1984) Note that the disciples were told to “wash one another’s feet,” but who were the ‘one-anothers’? The context says that it was the 11 present with Him.
We easily translate these two passages into the context of our leadership, understanding that as Kingdom leaders we watch over those whom we lead and use our position as leader to serve those under our care. But, while true, we miss the first context in doing so.
As a leadership team or community of leaders, we are to watch over the other leaders and team members first, then look after the needs of others. We are to serve the other leaders on our team and then those others who we have responsibility for. Yes, I am my brother’s keeper!
Too easily we assume that our leadership team members can get by without our help. “They are the mature ones and the seemingly stable ones,” we think. But, the enemy of our souls is not so foolish. He knows that by crippling the shepherd, he can then ravage the flock.
Maybe it’s time to check in with each other on your team? How’s it going? No, how’s it really going? How’s your soul? How’s your family? How’s your heart for the work entrusted to you? Are you thriving or just surviving in this work? What can I do to better lead you well?
Watch over yourselves first and then watch over the flock entrusted to your care!