When God called me from my law practice to full-time ministry I didn’t know where I would serve the Lord, but assumed it would be Scotland. I did know I was called to preach the Word of God and to shepherd the “flock” entrusted to me. The word “pastor” means shepherd: “Shepherd the flock of God that is among you” (1 Peter 5:2). Jesus Christ who is the Good Shepherd (John 10:11), “the Chief Shepherd” (1 Peter 5:4), “the Great Shepherd of the sheep” (Hebrews 13:20) provides the perfect example and model for all under shepherds. No one taught with such authority as Jesus. No one cared for people like Jesus.
However, it seems to me that fewer and fewer pastors have a passion to be shepherds. They love to preach and teach, write books, be politically active, attend conferences, engage in social media etc., but shepherding seems a low priority.
When people try to meet with pastors, they are often told that they are too busy. Is it a matter of laziness or is it a matter of priority and calling? As the Senior Pastor of a fairly large church, I realize the demands on lead pastors. Clearly we cannot minister on an individual basis to everyone, but we can model shepherding in such a way that other leaders catch the vision that people mattered to Jesus and should matter to us. Why take the name of “Pastor” if shepherding the flock is not a priority?
Some men who serve on pastoral staff leave church ministry as it seems they didn’t want to deal with the hassle of people’s difficulties, doubts, despairs, and disasters. They prefer to form their own ministry or join a para-church ministry where they decide their own priorities. Rarely is shepherding a priority!
Let’s follow the example of the Good Shepherd. When He saw the crowds He “had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36). Praise God for faithful shepherds who “when the Chief Shepherd appears, will receive the unfading crown of glory” (1 Peter 5:4).