Shepherds; February 10, 2018

Jeremiah 3:15 “Then I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will lead you with knowledge and understanding.”

We sometimes forget that “pastor” means “shepherd.” This verse calls to mind Paul’s famous words to the Ephesians: “It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:11-13) Good leaders are gifts from God. However, that doesn’t mean every leader fits that category. Sadly, some operate apart from God and His Spirit, and the results are all too predictable. The world, looking on from outside, may not be able to tell the difference immediately, but over time it becomes obvious to everyone. It’s interesting that where the NIV in this verse says “lead you,” the Japanese says “raise you,” as in raising children. Too many Church leaders look on their work simply as a job, when Paul spoke of childbirth in connection with those he led. (Galatians 4:19) You can’t get more personal and connected than that! Pastors do need knowledge, whether it’s from formal education or simply “bedside Bible college,” but knowledge alone doesn’t cut it. That’s where understanding comes in. It’s somewhat like the difference between IQ and common sense. Some people are more gifted in one than the other, but God is the ultimate supply for both, so those in leadership need to seek Him in all humility. (James 1:5)

I’ve been blessed in the knowledge department, but sometimes understanding has been harder to come by! For many years I complained about my lack of “pastoral gifting,” when God had clearly put me in a position where I had that responsibility, but I’ve had to repent of that. Just because Bible knowledge came easily to me didn’t mean I had a right to expect everything else to be easy too! I delight to spend time with God in His Word, and it is pure joy to share those insights with others who have ears to hear, but dealing with rebellious sheep is a different matter! However, sheep need a shepherd, and I’m delegated. I am to seek God for the understanding I need, along with the patience and simple endurance that are called for. I am not to be surprised at any difficulty, but rather know that God has allowed it to grow me and those in my care into what He desires us to be. It is hard for me to understand emotionally that “truth dumps” seldom work; I’ve got to walk alongside people and show them how to apply the truth I’ve shared with them. That’s hard work! However, I can’t back away from it if I am to fulfill the purposes for which God created and called me. My calling isn’t for my sake, but for the sake of those to whom I minister, and for God’s glory.

Father, thank You for this reminder. I certainly need such from time to time. Help me indeed shepherd the flock, raising them as You desire and intend, that Your house may be filled with Your children, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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