Copyright © 2012 by Derek Leaf . Not to be copied for commercial purposes.  Permission is granted to copy the unaltered, attributed page for non commercial purposes.

If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. 2 Cor 5:17

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Investing in God’s people from life to life

These pages are designed to aid study or investigation for Christian discipleship through individual Bible study, Cell groups, Home groups, or meeting one to one.  The questions could be used alone allowing each person to use their own Bible.


An image of leadership in the Bible is the shepherd with the sheep.  There are factors that makes it a powerful illustration of our leadership in Christ’s ministry.  It draws out the leader’s care, protection, and provision.  It is a humble role, often despised even in Biblical times and fits well with Jesus’ call for a leader’s humility .  

There are limitations to the illustration.  It does not do well with the development of people, or the mission our Lord left us with.  These factors are better served by the page on apostolic ministry, and the preceding page ‘overview of discipleship’.  All these are needed to work together.

Bible Zone

There are four key sections to this Bible Zone.

The Lord’s example

The Lord describes himself as a shepherd.  When we are serving as shepherds, He is our chief example.  Psalm 23

  1. What does the shepherd do for the sheep?
  2. How  are needs of the sheep are looked after by the shepherd?
  3. What might it look like in a ministry situation that the sheep are fed and watered?
  4. What might it look like in a ministry situation that the sheep are led through places of danger?  What are the rod and staff?
  5. How could your ministry be influenced by the Lord’s shepherding?

 Psalm 23  1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.

 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters,

 3 he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.

 4 Even though I walk  through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil,

       for you are with me; your rod and your staff,  they comfort me.

 5 You prepare a table before me  in the presence of my enemies.

       You anoint my head with oil;  my cup overflows.

 6 Surely goodness and love will follow me  all the days of my life,  and I will dwell in the house of the LORD  forever.

Part 2 Peter fellow shepherd

In this text Peter appeals to leaders of the church to lead as God’s shepherds.  He has grounds for doing so, that I have placed at the end of the study. 1 Peter 5:1-4

Instruction to Leaders

  1. How does Peter instruct the leaders to lead?
  2. What are the characteristics of a shepherd’s leadership of sheep?
  3. What is the style of leadership that Peter advocates?
  4. Peter uses the word serve.  Whom are you serving, self, organisation or Christ?
  5. How could this style of leadership be developed in your ministry?

2 Peter 2: 2 Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care, serving as overseers

Motivation of Leadership

Willingness is a key theme in the New Testament.  There is a sense of generosity of spirit similar here to that related to giving in 1 Corinthians 9.

  1. What are the motivations Peter recommends and warns against?
  2. Why would Peter contrast personal gain with willingness?
  3. For what could one be greedy in ministry beyond money?
  4. What outcomes are possible when motives are mixed with personal gain?
  5. How could you develop an eagerness to serve in your ministry?

2 Peter 2:2  —not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve;

Manner of Leadership

The leader is a model for those who are led.  Those who are led watch and pick up far more than leaders think.  Things they are happy about and the things they are less happy about.

  1. What styles of leadership are contrasted here?
  2. What does it mean for people to be entrusted?  By whom?
  3. What would lording it over people look like in your area of ministry?
  4. What would being an example look like?

2 Peter 2:3 not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.


Peter unashamedly introduces reward.  It seems this hope is important to stay the course..

  1. What is the reward and from whom does it come?
  2. Why does Peter call the Lord - Chief Shepherd?
  3. What impact does that have on the role and authority of being a shepherd?
  4. What contrast is there between the reward offered and false motives of v2?
  5. How does this eternal but unseen reward help you?

2 Peter 2: 4 And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.

Peter’s appeal

Peter does not demand people listen to him, he appeals.  This appeal from someone who would have legitimate authority is significant for he is modelling the same humility that he looks for.

  1. What are the 3 grounds of his appeal?
  2. What shared understanding might Peter have as a fellow elder?
  3. How would Peter’s experiences of Christ’s suffering contribute to his understanding of being a shepherd?
  4. Why does Peter mention as a basis for appeal his sharing in glory

2 Peter 2: 1To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ's sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed:

Part 3 Bad shepherds

By looking at the failings of bad shepherds we are able to glean from this passage what is expected of a good shepherd.  Ezekiel 34:1-6

  1. What are the characteristics of the bad shepherds?
  2. How might someone in ministry look after themselves as against the flock?
  3. What spiritualised motivations might be raised to avoid looking after the flock?
  4. How might someone in ministry feed on the people of their ministry?
  5. What is involved in strengthening, healing, binding the injured?
  6. What is involved in looking for strays?
  7. What would harsh leadership look like?

 Ezekiel 34:1   'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Woe to the shepherds of Israel who only take care of themselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock? 3 You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock. 4 You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally. 5 So they were scattered because there was no shepherd, and when they were scattered they became food for all the wild animals. 6  My sheep wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. They were scattered over the whole earth, and no one searched or looked for them.

Part 4 - Jesus’ Sheep and Thief

John 10 here Jesus used the picture of a shepherd and the sheep.

Thief and Gatekeeper

  1. What are the characteristics of the thief’s approach to the sheep?
  2. What is the role of the watchman?
  3. In a ministry situation, who is the gatekeeper?  What is their role?
  4. What indications might there be, in a ministry situation, that a thief is about?

 John 10:  1"I tell you the truth, the man who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. 2The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep. 3The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.

Gate and Thief

  1. What are the characteristics of the gate and the thieves?
  2. People who are thieves rarely believe themselves to be so.  How might spiritual thieves justify themselves?
  3. What outcomes from the work of a thief are stealing, killing and destroying?

 John 10:  7Therefore Jesus said again, "I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. 8All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

The Hired Hand

  1. What are the characteristics of a good shepherd and a hired hand?
  2. What is lacking in the motivation of the hired hand?
  3. What might a wolf look like in a ministry situation?
  4. What might running away look like in a ministry situation?

 John 10:  11"I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.