He gave some to be apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some shepherds and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, to the work of serving, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God,…Â Â Â Â Ephesians 4:11-16 (WEB, my emphasis)
I have never received a call from God to be a pastor. I am a teacher. I am an encourager. Paul says in his letter to Ephesians that the Holy Spirit imparts these gifts to equip the leadership of Godâ€™s Church to grow up the members of His Body so that they come together in unity.
[Jesus said,] â€œI am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who doesnâ€™t own the sheep, sees the wolf coming, leaves the sheep, and flees. The wolf snatches the sheep, and scatters them. The hired hand flees because he is a hired hand, and doesnâ€™t care for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own, and Iâ€™m known by my own; even as the Father knows me, and I know the Father. I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep, which are not of this fold I must bring them also, and they will hear my voice. They will become one flock with one shepherd.â€ Â Â John 10:11-16 (WEB)
Ordained pastors are not the only ones to whom Jesus was speaking. Mentors, youth directors, childrenâ€™s ministry leaders, and parents, are just some who care for Godâ€™s sheep just as Jesus speaks about in Johnâ€™s gospel. And here are some of the points of us to remember:
I lay down my life for those I care. Jesus wasnâ€™t speaking just about His physical body. Yes, He did that. He chose to lay down His life. As I minister to those who have been given into my care, do I follow Jesusâ€™ example and keep my eyes and heart on the needs of my sheep? Do I forget what is in it for me? Do I make decisions based on what is good for them?
If God is present and meeting with the sheep, guess who is also prowling around waiting to â€˜pick offâ€™ a stray lamb? The enemy does not see the church or our homes as â€˜off limitsâ€™ in this world. He will wait around in the shadows, waiting for a moment to spring and destroy. When an attack comes, the shepherd must be ready with the armor of God to drive the enemy out of the sheep!
The flock will thrive when in unity. Unity does not come because the flock includes all sheep. It includes the sheep who will respond to The Shepherd. The sheep live in harmony and grow up when they are in agreement about Who is their King and Lord. Each group of sheep has a purpose and they live to fulfill their purpose. Sheep can not be wandering off in all directions. They must stay together and listen to the leading of The Shepherd.
The Shepherd cares and protects His sheep with love and discipline. Jesus gave us His Spirit to teach and guide us in how to be good shepherds just as He is The Good Shepherd.