Shepherding is not a mystery. Shepherds take care of sheep, and spiritual shepherds take care of people.
A straightforward metaphor, but what does it look like? Here’s a description pulled from Ezekiel 34. This passage highlights God’s expectations for those who shepherd His people. Let your eyes run through this list and note the impression it makes. Then, reread each point and ask yourself what it might look like in a setting where you are answerable for a group of people.
A good shepherd . . .
— looks after them
— strengthens the weak
— heals the sick
— binds up the wounds of the injured
— brings back the strays
— searches for the lost
— rescues them from the places they scatter to in times of clouds and darkness
— brings them together and tends them in good pasture
— makes sure they have rest, peace, and abundant food
— eliminates abusers (the sleek)
— disciplines those who take the best and spoil what’s left
— deals with the bullies who plunder, butt, shove, and drive others away
— rids the land of predators
— provides freedom from fear
— blesses the sheep
An unworthy shepherd . . .
— rules harshly and brutally
— neglects the sheep, allowing them to scatter
— leaves them to their enemies when scattered
— allows them to wander wherever they want, far and wide
— doesn’t search for or go looking for them
— lets them become plunder and prey
— cares for himself rather than (or at the expense of) the sheep
— feeds off the flock
Let’s say you are answerable for a group of people, whether 20, 70, 150, or more. How would you make sure they were all well-shepherded?
Tomorrow we’ll consider who shepherds the shepherds.