Posts Tagged shepherd

We Are Called to Shepherd

By Paul Wilkinson

A subset of last week’s post about modeling Christlikeness has been convicting me this week. My Pastoral Ministry professor from seminary made the statement in class that he feared that we would love books more than people. At the time, I couldn’t imagine such a reality. How could I ever come to love a book or philosophy more than the people I engaged with the truths derived therefrom? Yet, it happened. I was able to rationalize that by loving the books and philosophy, I was loving people. By preparing myself to the maximum level, I could love them best. While some of that thinking is surely noble, I repeatedly neglected being a shepherd to those I was teaching.
The New Testament calls us to a different reality. Consider these verses about Jesus:
So as He stepped ashore, He saw a huge crowd and had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. Then He began to teach them many things (Mark 6.34) and Jesus wept. So the Jews said, “See how He loved him!” (John 11.35-6).
Paul echoed Jesus’ sentiment saying My children, I am again suffering labor pains for you until Christ is formed in you (Galatians 4.19) and For you can have 10,000 instructors in Christ, but you can’t have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel (1 Corinthians 4.15). And John echoed them both, calling his people My little children (1 John 2.1) and Dear friends (1 John 4.7).
The New Testament promoted the idea that those called to shepherd others are spiritual fathers (and mothers). And the love we have for our biological children (2 dogs in my case) is the same love that we ought to have for those whom God called us to shepherd. In my zeal for knowledge, I forgot that I was appointed to be spiritual father over many. On numerous days, I was perhaps the only Jesus they saw and I was not a very good one. And if I was their model for Christlikeness, then were they capable of being Jesus to those they met who were in need?
I did not long with birth pains for my people and I did not have compassion for my people. I pray that we remain sensitive to our role as shepherd. I will raise up shepherds over them who will shepherd them (Jeremiah 23.4). Remember in the midst of your study and preparation, that you are the spiritual father or spiritual mother to those given to you. Such a role is of exceeding importance and I thank God that you have been called to it because God has given you the heart for it.
We may not greet each other with a holy kiss any more (Romans 16.16; 2 Corinthians 13.12), but be sure to express to your people how much you love them and how much you long to see Jesus Christ formed in them. And never forget that we love you and long to see Jesus Christ fully formed in you.