Shepherding is a Two-Way Street

By Mark Hallock

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 Scripture teaches. It is hard, difficult work, but it is 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 serve in ministry, the more I realize this.

In the local church, the sheep, God’s people, have an important role to play in a pastor’s shepherding work. I think about this not only from the perspective of serving as a pastor 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 have before the Lord in helping our pastors shepherd our souls, but Scripture is crystal clear: Our role is vital. Again, 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 to do, more than that, as God will hold them accountable for. That is weighty.

Here are two questions I’ve been thinking about and I would encourage you to do the same:

#1. 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 am in fact (knowingly or unknowingly) making it harder for them to shepherd?

#2. 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 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, Preach Lead Love.

Published July 30, 2021

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Mark Hallock

Mark Hallock serves as the lead pastor of Calvary Church in Englewood, Colorado. He also serves as president of the Calvary Family of Churches, a group committed to planting and replanting churches for the glory of God ( His great desire is to see the gospel transform lives and neighborhoods through the planting of new congregations, along with the revitalization of declining congregations, throughout the city of Denver and beyond. Mark’s favorite hobby is hanging out with his wife, Jenna, and their two kids, Zoe and Eli.