Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Current Study: 1 Peter
Today’s Topic: Shepherds Need Sheep
Scripture Reading: 1 Peter 5:1-3 (NIV) To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ’s sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.
October is Pastor Appreciation Month. As a pastor of a wonderful church, I’m blessed to be appreciated all year long. But it’s especially nice to hear from people in unique ways during this month. Yesterday when I came into my office I discovered a huge box of paper towels, napkins, and toilet paper. I thought the storage closet was full and my office had become overflow. I discovered that it was all a gift to me from someone who works at a paper company. What a blessing!
In response to Pastor Appreciation Month, I want to start an appreciation month of my own. It will be called Sheep Appreciation Month. I think the flock needs to be admired more often. I want my flock of sheep to know how much I love them and what joy they bring to my heart as I serve them.
As Peter writes today to challenge the shepherds (pastors and elders) of the church, he also alludes to several things that are true of a good flock of sheep. I have been blessed to be assigned as the shepherd of God’s flock. I am honored to have them under my care, because they are willing to be cared for. They are not stubborn sheep. They like to be led and fed. It’s easy to get up every day and watch the Lord use me to move the sheep to places where they can experience a deeper relationship with their True Shepherd. The sheep God has given me are humble and willing to listen to me as a shepherd.
As an overseer, it’s fulfilling to actually be able to lead. But I have learned through the years that it’s not always easy to lead. Sometimes the sheep do get stubborn. Sometimes they don’t follow. Often they burst through the fences and wander in the world as if they were lost. But God has given me His heart to seek the lost. I am so thankful to be surrounded by other shepherds and sheep who also want to seek the lost ones. We do not do it because we must, but because we are willing. The love of Christ compels us, and it’s an awesome blessing to be surrounded by sheep that are also compelled by Christ’s love.
I also praise God for the attitude of the sheep to both serve and be served. Just yesterday I had one of the sheep come to my office with a humble heart and repent of a sin and ask for forgiveness. In the process of our conversation I discovered a financial need, and as the shepherd I was able to serve her by meeting that need. She humbly accepted that help. I know that someday when she is able, she will serve others in the same way. She will follow the example of the shepherd. I only pray that I will continue to be the right example. I never want to force others to do what I would not model myself.
There’s one more thought on my heart. Some shepherds aren’t so fortunate. Some flocks are pretty messed up. Some sheep are pretty stubborn. I’ve been the shepherd of a flock like that in the past. I’ve seen how sheep can devour their shepherds. I’ve seen how sheep can take their shepherds for granted. I’ve seen the hearts of good shepherds crushed by mean-spirited sheep. My words to those shepherds are the words of the Apostle Paul – The sheep that reject your instruction are not rejecting you but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit. (1 Thess. 4:8) You are the appointed one of God. You are the humble, willing servant of the Good Shepherd. Be the example of love and grace. And no matter how you suffer, keep serving, not because you must, but because God’s call is upon your life and His love compels you. If you persevere, the Chief Shepherd will come and expose the wolves who have been masquerading as sheep, and He will purify His church.