Living on a small farm with livestock such as sheep, we often have predators come to disrupt the herd and snatch away the little lambs. The best way to keep our territory safe for the flock to grow and flourish is for us to have a few dogs.
To this end we have two very different dogs with very different gifts, skills, and builds. First we have a small beagle named Hanna. Beagles have the strongest nose of any of the dog breeds. So much so that it’s practically an extrasensory perception. Beagles see more with their nose then with their eyes. They can pick up when a predator is lurking when no one else knows anything is happening. They know when it is approaching before it even gets their. Once the foe is there the beagle knows its paths, tactics, and tricks and can track it down when others (judging by sight and limited smell) still think that all is well.
However, for all her discernment, tenacity, devotion, and bravery, she would get herself killed without some help. So while Hanna is the hunter and “point dog”, our second dog, Theophilus, is the guard dog. He is a huge dog, being a mix between the lion hunting Rhodesian Ridgeback and the very protective Louisiana Catahoula Cur. Living in Louisiana we have a lot of different large predators here and while our little beagle is great at picking up on dangers, sounding the alarm, and tracking it down, when she finds it, there’s not a whole lot she can do, so this is where Theophilus’ role steps in.
The scene usually unfolds something like this. The sheep are in the pasture oblivious to any threat, but a predator has begun to plot and stalk in the unseen. Hanna picks it up! Nothing out of the ordinary can be seen but she sees what can’t be seen and trust her nose. She takes off running at full speed yelping and baying and sounding the alarm. Theophilus, trusting in her nose, runs behind her, covering her, and protecting her as she tracks the threat down. Eventually they find the threat and though she continues to bark, she falls back and Theophilus steps up to take care of business, remove the threat, reclaim their territory, and return peace and safety to the flock. Then they return to wait for the next enemy that try’s to come and steal, kill, and destroy within their territory.
Believe it or not, this is exactly the relationship and the importance of the pastor and the prophet within a congregation. One without the other is severely handicapped leaving themselves, their flock, and their territory open to the enemy. They can each do something’s well but only together can they truly keep the flock safe, healthy, and growing.
Through out biblical history, when the shepherds over the congregation of the people stopped listening to the voice of the prophet sounding the alarm of approaching danger, they all fell into the enemies hands and the flock was scattered. It’s no different today, but likewise, the prophets words and warnings are of no use if there is no pastor that will trust them, defend them, and act upon them, and enforce them to the safeguarding of the flock.
Understand this, a prophet is not a pastor anymore then my beagle is a guard dog. Neither can a pastor assume to pick up on the unseen in time as well as the prophet can anymore then my Cur could ever hope to out trail my beagle. God has designed it this way on purpose, to keep us dependent on Him by keeping us dependent on His gifts in others. No one person can effectively lead a church body other then Christ Himself, because we are all part of the body ourselves. Each part has its part and no one part can do it all. They all must learn to trust in and be led of the head (which is Christ/the Holy Spirit) who works through all the different parts of the body as it functions together as a whole to achieve the will of God (the head).
All the parts are important, all the parts have their strengths and weakness, all the parts have their place and their purpose. Therefor, it is important for us to learn when to step up into our role, and possibly even more important to learn when to fall back and let those who have been built for this fight, step up and take their place in theirs.
The number one thing that prevents this from happening the way it should is pride and that is why pride always comes before a fall. Pride will cause you to be overtaken by your foes, pride will cost you your flock, pride will cost you the territory. Learn when to step up and when to fall back and you will function in the fullness of how God created you to. A body of different members all being led in different ways using different gifts by one Spirit to achieve one will, the Father’s will; all of it in all it’s scope and perfection, hinging upon these few things, humility, obedience, unity, selflessness, love, and faith.
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:” – 1 Peter 5:8
“And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.” – Ephesians 4:11-16