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Shepherding

September 6, 2006

Today I am blogging about the question that is on my mind more and more lately: How are shepherds supposed to take care of the Lord’s church?

Without a doubt, all who have been called to be shepherds find this to be a sobering question. God clearly wants a job to be done, and to be done right, diligently, consistently, and persistently. The people he appointed to this work had better be doing it when he returns! The church which he purchased with the blood of his Son is the most important thing in this world. When God appointed men to take care of his church, he gave them a staggering responsibility. Who is up to such a task?

I spend a lot of time thinking, praying, and studying about this question–both in the scriptures and in extra-biblical sources. Many books have been written on the topic, and I have read a stack of them. Reading sometimes opens my eyes to new aspects of the task, or to techniques that others have found useful. It always humbles me as I realize how much I have to grow and learn if I am to properly fill this role.

As I ponder these responsibilities, a few points continually stand out:

1) Be there. Shepherds must be with the sheep, or they cannot do their job. That requires a lot more than being at Sunday and midweek services. It means sharing not only the gospel, but my life as well. It means feeding them publicly and also house to house. It means knowing the sheep. It means knowing the condition of the flock, identifying the needs, and taking steps to address them. Pray for me in this area!

2) Feed them. That means teaching the Bible, and showing them how to apply it to their lives. It is my conviction that the local congregation should teach the whole Bible to the church in a reasonable length of time. They shouldn’t have to go to seminary to hear the whole counsel of God. All scriptures are inspired and useful. When all of the scriptures are taken together, they thoroughly prepare the church for every good work. When parts are left out, the sheep have a deficient diet and will not be healthy.

3) Protect them. Paul charged the Ephesian elders with protecting the flock from the wolves who would arise. In particular, he warned them that some would try to divide the sheep and lead some away. Maintaining unity within the flock is a crucial responsibility of the shepherds.

4) Rescue and restore them. God rebuked the shepherds of Israel in Ezek 34 for not retrieving the lost sheep. He said he himself would seek them, rescue them, bind their wounds and make them safe. That is what the shepherds of Israel should have been doing, but were not.

5) Be examples to the flock. One of the greatest needs in most churches is for examples of spiritual men. Many of the problems in churches can be traced back to men who are not being spiritual. The church cannot be strong without husbands who treat their wives in a godly way, and fathers who train their children in godliness. Those who lead must set the example in these areas, and inspire others to follow.

Without God, nobody would be equal to this task. Certainly I would not be! Pray that God will help me to fulfill the role he has given me.

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