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  • Andy Harker

Christian Leaders Need The Gospel


Paul’s ‘great committal’ in Acts 20:32 has struck me afresh recently as profoundly helpful grounding for the hearts of those entrusted with shepherding God’s flock.

Imagine how those Ephesian elders felt after their beloved apostle dropped the massively weighty charge “to shepherd the church of the Lord God, which he bought with the blood of his Own,”[1] followed up by a dreadful warning that the wolves were at the door and even in the room already, and then got on a boat and left them.

How on earth are they going to cope?

But before he goes Paul leaves them with a beautifully strong committal:

“Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.” (Acts 20:32-35)

That word translated “commit” is used by Jesus on the Cross as he commits his spirit into the Father’s hands. It’s an unequivocal entrusting into the charge of another. Sometimes you see a news story where there’s a burning building and a parent is handing their toddler out of the window to a rescuer and saying, “Have you got him?” “Yes, I’ve got him.” That’s what’s happening here.

I commit you to God

They are committed first and foremost to God. He is the strong rescuer. God says, “I’ve got him.” God says to you, elder, pastor, Christian leader, “I’ve got you.” Which speaks of:

  • Protection: If God is for us, who can be against us? No-one can snatch us out of his hand. We are the apple of his eye. He’ll protect us in the same way we reflexively protect our eye when someone jabs us in the face. The Angel of the Lord encamps around us and he’s not going to let anything through that’s not good for us.

  • Peace: Ed Welch points out that no amount of information can give us peace. A small child walking through a dark wood is not reassured by being informed that wolf attacks are very rare. What reassures her is having her father walking alongside her holding her hand. That’s why almost every one of the 365 ‘fear nots’ in the Bible is accompanied with ‘for I am with you says the Lord.’

  • Provision: He is a good Father and a good Master. If we are his children, he will not let his children lack for anything they need. If we are his servants, he will not let his servants lack any resource they need for the work he has given them to do.

  • Power: As the Ephesian elders hear what they’ve been charged to do and the challenges they will face they cry out, “Who is equal to these things?” No-one. We have no power in ourselves to keep watch over ourselves and all the flock. We have no power to change hearts. We have no power to grow ourselves let alone grow Christ’s church. “Without me you can do nothing.” But if God has got us then we can toil and struggle with all his energy that he powerfully works within us. [2]

Christian leader, that’s what we need to know - first and foremost: God has got you.


[1] Acts 20:28. A charge which Richard Baxter turned into a terrifying book-length exhortation: The Reformed Pastor.

[2] Colossians 1:29. The Anglican 1662 Ordinal brilliantly captures the Scriptural emphasis on both the great weightiness of the pastoral office and the great provision of the Holy Spirit.


Andy Harker serves the Co-Mission network of churches as Assistant Mission Director, particularly developing the Planting Academy and Pebble Consultancy ministries. He is a sinner saved by grace, married with three secondary age children and a member of Dundonald Church Raynes Park.

Views expressed in blogs published by the Latimer Trust are hose of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Latimer Trust.



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