When King Herod asked the chief priests and scribes where the Christ was to be born, they quoted Micah 5:2 to him: “And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, are by no means least among the leaders of Judah; for out of you shall come forth a ruler, who will shepherd my people Israel.” (Matthew 2:6)
A little phrase in that verse is very instructive. In it we see “two sides of the coin” in a sense, of Jesus’ leadership, which also serves as a good guide for godly leadership of all kinds:
— First, it says He is a “Ruler.” He does have authority. There is no question that Jesus is the ruler. In Psalm 2 God the Father makes it abundantly clear that He has established His King on Mount Zion, and that King is His Son. He does rule with authority. And in that same pattern, different earthly rulers, pastors in churches, and others have God-given authority as well.
— But the “other side of the coin” should also be noted: The prophet foretold that the Messiah would also be a ruler “who will SHEPHERD.” He would not come to “drive” His people, but to lead them gently as a Shepherd.
This is a good guide for those of us who serve as pastors and as other leaders as well: parents, authorities in the workplace, etc. You do have a certain God-given authority, but you should also follow Christ’s example as one who gently shepherds, not drives with authority.
I Peter 5:1-3 reinforces this guide for pastors and local church leaders: “shepherd the flock among you, exercising authority not under compulsion, but voluntarily … nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock.” I.e., your best “authority” with your people is your EXAMPLE, not the power of your “position.” If you have to put your foot down and say, “I am the pastor!” (or whatever position you hold) you have probably already lost your best opportunity to lead.
In whatever leadership capacity you serve, lead those entrusted to your charge like Jesus did. Lead them by example. Lead them as a shepherd. Do not merely be “a ruler”, but like Jesus: “a ruler, who will shepherd.”