One of the great joys of being a pastor is shepherding God’s people … knowing, feeding, leading and protecting them by God’s grace and power, as the Scriptures teach. It is hard, difficult work but a true blessing and humbling privilege. As imperfect as I am as a shepherd pastor (and I am very imperfect), there is nothing I would rather give my life to.
However, it is important to understand that effective shepherding in the local church is a two-way street. The longer I am in ministry, the more I realize this.
Paradoxically, the sheep – God’s people – have an important role to play in the shepherd’s work in the local church. I think about this not only from the pastoral perspective but, more importantly, as a church member who is blessed to have great pastors who shepherd me. According to Scripture, we can either make it easier for our pastors to carry out their God-given responsibility to shepherd our souls – or we can make it harder for them. I have been thinking about this a lot as I think about the wonderful pastors who “watch over” our family.
Hebrews 13:17 puts it this way: “Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you.”
Rarely do we think about the role and responsibility we (the sheep) have before the Lord in helping our pastors shepherd our souls, but Scripture is crystal clear: Our role is vital. Shepherding is a two-way street. Our attitude, our commitment to worship and giving, our prayer support, our encouragement, our faithfulness to care for others in the body, our service, our communication with pastors and staff, our love – all these things and more play a huge part in helping our pastors “keep watch” over us as God has called them and will hold them accountable to do. That is weighty.
I would encourage you to ponder these two questions:
- What kind of sheep am I? Am I seeking to live out Hebrews 13:17 and help my pastors shepherd me and my family or am I failing to do my part and in fact making it harder for them to shepherd?
- What can my family and I begin to do now to live out Hebrews 13:17 and help our pastors shepherd us well? How can we be more of an encouragement than a burden to our pastors in their shepherding work?
Lord, help us to love our pastors and their families well. May we be an encouragement, a help to them as they seek to shepherd us for Your glory.
This post originally appeared at Mark’s blog.
Published September 23, 2022