The Bible uses shepherding as a metaphor for pastoral work. Shepherds take care of sheep, and spiritual shepherds take care of people. It’s a straightforward metaphor — but what does it look like? Here’s a description pulled from Ezekiel 34. Scan the list and note the impression it makes. Then, reread each point and ask what it might mean for the people in your church.
A good shepherd . . .
• is accountable for the flock
• 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 dark and cloudy times
• brings them together and finds good pasture for them
• makes sure they have rest, peace, and abundant food
• exercises justice
• 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 the sheep
• feeds off the flock
Impressive list, right? Let’s say you were responsible for a group of Christ followers, whether 20, 70, 150, or more. How would you make sure they were all shepherded?
I can only think of one answer. Working together. Caring for souls is hard work. If it’s not shared, it’s impossible.