I know of several Churches at the moment who are having a great deal of trouble finding a new pastor.
Maybe they are not looking hard enough or whatever on a human level, but certainly we can say that God, for His own reasons, has decided not to provide a suitable person just now.
And it just may be that there are not the suitable men available for the job.
That said, I thought this week it may be useful to look at the issue of shepherding God’s flock, since it involves such an serious responsibility.
The Bible frequently uses shepherding as a metaphor for spiritual leadership, not just because sheep and shepherds were part of the culture in biblical times, but that the functions of a shepherd are very closely connected to the same way a Christian leader should be dealing with God’s flock.
Finally, we should also realise that the ministry of shepherding is not the complete responsibility only of a paid minister, elder or deacon.
We are all shepherds, one of another, and should not expect such responsibilities to be held only by the paid leaders who are faithfully doing their God-given job.
Feeding and Watering
When Jesus told Peter to ‘feed My lambs’ He expected him, and by extension, all leaders, to remember young Christians are all HIS, not only our own parishioners.
Lambs need milk, and the milk of the Word gets them started in life. So a leader is to make sure the lambs are fed firstly what will help them grow.
Then Jesus said ‘feed My sheep’. These are those who have been Christians for a while – they, in theory, are mature and can cope with solid food.
Hebrews 5:12-14 refers to the importance of correct food for lambs and adult sheep.
Paul’s 2nd letter to Timothy [2 Tim 3:16-17] explains the need for solid food:
‘All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.’
Here is a clear direction to those who preach and teach: TEACH THE SCRIPTURES.
Then there is watering, often used to refer to the Holy Spirit.
A leader should make sure His lambs get good access to regular supplies of what the Holy Spirit provides: understanding of God’s Word through Bible study, prayer, Christian fellowship, the apostles’ doctrine, the Lord’s Supper and living in obedience to Jesus’ commands.
Leading and Looking for Wanderers
The shepherd is to ‘lead me beside still waters’ [Ps 23]. Good leaders teach and restore the sheep and help them stay together on the right path for safety.
A false shepherd does not do this. He teaches poor or wrong doctrine and so encourages division.
Ephesians 4:12 says our leaders are required:
‘to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith’.
As well as this, the good shepherd will make an effort to look for the wandering sheep. Jesus’ parable of the lost sheep [Luke 15:4], is an important part of a pastor’s ministry to the flock.
Those who have wandered or backslidden are examples to us of the danger of falling away.
As Peter says:
‘For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.’ [1 Pet 2:25].
A pastor and all Church leaders need to take to heart the many exhortations in the Scriptures to lead, feed and protect the sheep from the wolves.
Protecting the Flock
The shepherd used to bring the flock back to the fold at night. He would then lay down in front of the door to protect the sheep from wolves coming into the sheepfold.
He literally put his life on the line for the sheep. See John 10:1-13.
What do we learn from this? Good shepherds and leaders are to be WATCHMEN – not just administrators.
There are at present many savage wolves entering the sheepfold. Jesus said:
‘Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.’ [Mat 7:15]
God has made every leader a watchman and there are many gates into any Church – the bookstore, the music, the entertainments, the false teachers, the so-called ‘Christian’ event spectaculars that pander to worldly tastes.
Leaders need to figuratively lay their lives on the line to protect the sheep from these dangers.
Many today are not doing their job because they are either too afraid or too ignorant, and therefore are giving the enemy an easy foothold under their un-watchful eyes.
How about You?
This has not been a pastor-bashing exercise, but is a reminder to all of us, whether we are called leaders or not, to show Christian responsibility and care for our fellow brethren.
I fear too many of us have not been as watchful or as careful as we should.
We all need to stay awake to the wiles of the devil – the wolves – and do our bit to protect, be concerned and watchful for the flock of God.
If we don’t speak up, speak out or quietly counsel our fellow lambs and sheep – or even our leaders – we do not fulfill the command of the apostle Paul to ‘carry one another’s burdens.’ [Gal 6:2]: