"The Lord is my Shepherd" (Psalm 23)
Do shepherds have the aroma... like sheep? It all depends.
There are always good reasons why God restates words, truths, stories, and metaphors. This metaphor comes to us over 500 times in the Bible. The name is used numerous times with those who have spiritual leadership and responsibility over people.
Pastors are identified in several ways... watchmen, teachers, leaders, administrators, shepherds, etc. This high calling in God’s Kingdom is an honor and a sacred trust. Following are just a few thoughts on this “assignment.”
~ Jesus is the Good Shepherd (great, chief)
Jn. 10:11: “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”
Heb. 13:20: “May the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep . . .”
~ Shepherd – teachers (pastors)
Eph. 4:11-12: “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ . . . ”
~ Shepherds with God’s heart
Jer. 3:15: “I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding.”
~ Sheep (people) without a shepherd
Matt. 9:36: “He saw the crowds... they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”
~ Shepherd ethics (rules of behavior)
1 Pet. 5:2-5: “Shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.” (See also 1 Tim 3:1-7, Titus 1:5-11)
~ God’s opinion of selfish shepherds
Ezek. 34:1-5, 10: “Prophesy against the shepherds... who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep? You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat ones, but you do not feed the sheep. The weak you have not strengthened, the sick you have not healed, the injured you have not bound up, the strayed you have not brought back, the lost you have not sought, and with force and harshness you have ruled them. So they were scattered, because there was no shepherd, and they became food for all the wild beasts... I am against the shepherds and I will require my sheep at their hand and put a stop to their feeding the sheep... I will rescue my sheep...
~ The Harvest (people who are hungry, in need, broken, harassed, open to hear)
Jn. 4:25b-37: “Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest. Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.” (See also Lk. 10:2, Mt. 9:36-37)
~ The Church (born again believers in Jesus Christ, the Body of Christ) and its growth
Acts 2:47b: “And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.” (The Lord draws people to the Father.)
Jn. 6:44: “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.” (The Father draws people to Jesus.)
Acts 6:7: “And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of priests became obedient to the faith.” (The word has power to attract new people – i.e., the word is alive.)
Acts 8:1: “And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.” (Persecution forces church planting.)
Acts 16:5: “The churches were strengthened in the faith, and they increased in numbers daily.” (Faith, signs, wonders, answers to prayer all cause people to be interested in the Gospel – i.e., faith is contagious.)
What about shepherds who do not do their job – feed themselves, and do not see the needs of their people? How do their sheep receive food?
What about shepherds who hurt sheep, false shepherds, or shepherds who are afraid to address the “wolves” within their congregations?
What about wounded people – broken, beaten down, and burned out – where do they go?
The Lord is the Good Shepherd, the Chief Shepherd, the Great Shepherd.
Pastors – under-shepherds – are to care for people like the Good Shepherd cares for people.
There are masses of people who are ready to listen, respond, and receive help that only God can give. The harvest is ready.
There are large portions of Scripture that point out ethics, principles, and rules of conduct for shepherds and church leaders.
There is such a thing as bad shepherds. i.e., people who are selfish, do not do their job, live in sin, and as a result sheep (people) are being hurt. (There are even false shepherds.)
As shepherds, we have a responsibility to care for the needs of people in the church (regardless of the church they are a part of) while being sensitive to ethical conduct and avoiding any misunderstandings or church division.
~ “And the Lord added to their number”
What happened to cause the numbers to grow? Jesus added to the church, people responded to the word, to testimonies (their Jesus story), and to planting new churches. Also, the church spread because of persecution, finding the lost, the confused, and the needy... the churches were becoming stronger (healthier), more focused and as a result they increased.
Thanks for your heart for His Kingdom, for your leadership, for saying “yes” to Jesus and the people in your community. I Am Always...