Acts 20:28-31

Led of the Spirit of God to hold up his own example for their imitation, Paul proceeded to found thereon an appeal to themselves; and let everyone who holds any position of responsibility a m on g the saints of God ponder well and prayerfully its terms. "Take heed therefore"—to be diligent in your work? No, but "unto yourselves." As he afterward wrote to Timothy, it is, first of all, "Take heed unto thyself." This is the primary responsibility, the neglect of which has rendered so many servants powerless, and has caused so many shipwrecks (1 Tim. 1:1919Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck: (1 Timothy 1:19)).
Having taken heed to themselves, they were then to care for all the flock, over which the Holy Ghost, not man, had made them overseers (bishops), and to feed the Church of God so dear to Him, in that He had purchased it with the blood of His own. The Apostle thus supplied these elders with the most powerful motives to diligence and fidelity in their service, motives which sprang from the origin of their office. from the fact that the Church belonged to God. and that He had acquired it at no less a cost than that of the precious blood of His own beloved Son. He helped them in this way to understand also that the magnitude of their responsibility was but t h e measure of their unspeakable privilege.
This solemn charge was evidently given in view of the following warning, "For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them." vv. 29, 30.
Two sources of danger were thus indicated from without and from within. Wolves from without would seek to harass and scatter the sheep (see John 10:1212But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. (John 10:12)); and professors within, departing from the truth an d teaching error, would form "schools of opinion," sects and parties, and thus divide the flock. Sad prospect! But how fully, alas! it has been realized, for the state of the professing church at the present moment entirely answers to this description. What then were these elders to do in view of the evil days? They were to copy Paul's example, and just as he had, during three years, "ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears," so they were to labor with all earnestness to tread in his steps. Such a ministry might not indeed be acceptable; for the people of God, like Israel of old, prefer those who prophesy "smooth things"; but the path of the true servant must be governed alone by fidelity to his Lord, whose approbation must suffice for his encouragement.