Pastors, Feed Your Sheep
The term “shepherd,” although not mainstream in our industrialized culture, still holds the visuals of green pastures, white fences, and a person leaning on a pickup truck watching over a field of animals. It is often a romanticized job, but in reality, being a shepherd is a demanding, dirty, and under-appreciated livelihood.
The role of a pastor in today’s climate feels similarly romanticized as with the description of a shepherd. When we think about a pastor do we picture professional outfits, joyful baptisms, and studying scripture uninterrupted for the weekly homily?
When I was young, that was what I pictured as the “ideal” for pastor, studying God's Word in private, public service on a timetable, and altars filled with the repentant. In reality, it is demanding, messy, and yes, under appreciated.
After a few months of pastoring, the image of one person out in front, leading the charge was quickly dissolved. Instead, I learned how to lead as a “sheep” myself. Linking arms with the congregants, encouraging daily, equipping practically, praying persistently, and learning to abide in Christ daily (John 15:9).
Pride has a way of sneaking in and our selfish-ambitions cause us to strive to grow the flock and earn accolades from amazing shepherding work. All shepherds must "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit" (Phil. 2:3, NIV).
In humility, with other sheep, filled by the Holy Spirit, we together follow the Greatest Shepherd.
One strong conviction I have about being a shepherd is I cannot lead where I have not been. This includes uncomfortable spiritual practices such as fasting and prayer. Last spring, during the season of Lent I was to teach on fasting and prayer. Lent began on February 22, so in order to lead by example; the Holy Spirit led me too fast for three weeks beginning in January.
When it was time to lead the congregation through the spiritual discipline of fasting, I could equip and encourage along the way.
Another conviction about being a shepherd came by way of a Tweet (or should I say an X?) by Andy Stanley that read, “As leaders, we cannot provide certainty, but we must provide clarity” (2021).
This is a guide for all who lead and shepherd in any capacity. The danger for the flock creeps in when church leaders forget they are also Jesus’ sheep, not only a shepherd.
Personally, I have am convicted about my need to be in control and have all the answers. It is Christ-like humility to say, “I’m not sure what lies in our future, but we will follow the Shepherd together.”
Straight Truth Podcast. (2022, June 2). Why Are Pastors Called Shepherds? YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6FG9ew5QoA0
Photo courtesy of Begun Wschodnni from Unsplash.com https://unsplash.com/photos/vD3L-rN_qNw