the weblog of Alan Knox

A wolf in sheep’s clothing?

Posted by on Jan 31, 2011 in community, discipleship, elders | 16 comments

A wolf in sheep’s clothing?

Do you see the young, good looking guy in the picture? No? Well, you do see the guy in the picture, right?

Well, that guy – whether he is young and good looking or not – can be a wolf in sheep’s clothing. At times, he can teach and lead in a way that is contrary to God’s will. It’s true. He’s not perfect.

That guy in the picture is one of the reasons that I’m glad that our church has recognized (appointed) several people to be pastors/elders/overseers.

You see, if the church relied on that guy in the picture, they would be headed the wrong way at times. But, the church can now follow the example of several different people. Sometimes, one or more of them may go astray. But, the other elders (and the other brothers and sisters for that matter) are there to say, “Whoa! Wait just a minute. Are you sure that you’re headed in the right direction? I don’t think God wants us to follow you there.”

It’s awesome how the Holy Spirit works through my brothers and sisters to bring me back in line with the will of God when I begin to stray. Again, I’m glad I’m not the head guy… the senior pastor… the guy in charge. I’ll leave all that to Jesus, and keep following him together with my brothers and sisters.


Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 1-31-2011

    I respectfully disagree and its not because I place you on a pedestal, I do not believe since you came to Christ that you have ever been a wolf in sheeps clothing due to the context of Matt. 7:13-23. A brother in error? Sure. Often? Maybe, probably-just like all of us. 🙂

  2. 1-31-2011

    a real wolf would never say what you are saying… 😉

  3. 1-31-2011

    I completely agree with you Alan but what happens when four or five elders are all going the wrong way? It does happen, as I am sure you know. This would be an argument, it seems to me, against strict independent status as a congregation. Something more is needed than even a plurality of elders and many of us think we need this as well as a plurality.

  4. 1-31-2011

    I think it would be the role of biblical apostle.
    not denominationnal headquarter leaders.
    top-down hierarchy didn’t prevent errors in the past. that’s just a matter of fact.
    in China, where organisationnal denominations doesn’t exist, some observers estimate that maybe 10-15% of “evangelicals/protestants” churches are in deep errors. In my mind that’s better than many denominations.

  5. 1-31-2011


    I agree with you that this can happen with a plurality of elders, and that an elder can be brought back into line by other elders. But does anything in scripture assure us that it will always or even usually work this way? When a member in all honesty thinks his elders are wrong, are we assured that it is always the member who is wrong? And if not, how do we resolve the standoff?

  6. 1-31-2011

    Thanks everyone for the discussion. While I was being completely honest in the post, I was also hoping this post would trigger a good discussion.


    I agree that if I am God’s child I cannot truly be a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” as the phrase is used in Scripture. I was using it in a more popular manner that I’ve seen it used to described leaders who mislead “their” people.


    I have my moments… 😉

    John and Tommy,

    I think if we were all open to listening to other believers (even those who are not leaders or members of our church or denomination), the church could work together to help those who are not leading people according to God’s will. As it is, this is extremely rare. So, a group of elders, while certainly not perfect, is much better than the single leader model prevalent in most churches.


    No, there is no certainty that is will work. In fact, if a member (non-elder) questions the leading of elders (even if it is only one person) I think the elders should carefully consider that person’s reservations.


  7. 1-31-2011

    I believe that reaching consensus among teh brethren is the only safe way to proceed with decision making within a local assembly.

  8. 1-31-2011

    1 Cor. 1-2 contains very insightfull teachings about how to “WE [could]know the mind of Christ” and not do division in a church … some following Paul, others Peter, others Christ. If every member is “crucified”, and if the cross is lived within the life of each members of the church, and in the life of the church, then this church will “know the mind of Christ” (1Cor2) and will be able to act accordingly.

  9. 1-31-2011


    I agree. But, I don’t think you’ll get many churches or church leaders to agree. It’s too impractical for many because of their structure and organization.


    The scriptural exhortation to unity are all encompassing. If we don’t have unity (consensus), it means there’s a problem. That means we should slow down, not speed ahead.


  10. 2-1-2011

    Your post reminded me of Matt 16:22-24 This can be one of those aha moments with Him, where it more than head acknowledgment, but the heart piercing “wound of a friend.”

    I think it is healthy to know that we can lead in the wrong direction at times, and so we need to be open to correction and sensitive when being confronted (which can feel like being affronted if we lack this more humble perspective).

    If I can never be wrong, then I am set up to start thinking (and acting like), “shut up and listen and do what I said.”

    It is also quite freeing to recognize we are not always right and it allows us to lead alongside instead of leading over others.

  11. 2-1-2011

    Ah yes, that pesky structure and organization that gets in the way of doing things properly. 🙁

  12. 2-1-2011


    I agree that it is both healthy and freeing!


    Actually, I don’t think that all structure and organization is evil or that it always gets in the way. But, if you have an organization in which certain (organizational) decisions must be made, then consensus becomes almost impossible.


  13. 2-1-2011


    Can you explain again why a plurality of elders is needed to you on track? You say at one point that “the other elders (and the other brothers and sisters for that matter) are there to” correct you. Since any brother or sister can correct you, it sounds like you will be kept on track whether you are the senior pastor, or one of a plurality of elders, or just an “older man” with no appointed office.

  14. 2-1-2011


    That’s a good question. I think it begins with that fact that even though I am an elder/overseer, I am also part of the church, which means that I am also supposed to submit myself to other elders/overseers. Also, being part of a group of elders makes it much easier to see how other people lead – not just elders. In fact, when we appointed elders among the church, we recognized those who were already leading, teaching, etc.


  15. 2-1-2011


    When we appointed elders among the church, we recognized those who were already leading, teaching, etc.

    It’s not my intention to challenge you on this, much less harangue you. Your church has decided an issue (whether or not to treat elders as officials) that is very much a live question in my mind, and I’m very much interested in what happens as you live this out, and how it shapes the rest of your thinking about body life. So please continue to write about the various implications of having official elders—and please continue to be patient with my questions!

  16. 2-1-2011


    I love the questions, please keep them coming.

    We’ve been living this out for just over six years now.



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