Sheep need shepherds. In the Scriptures, they are portrayed as not-so-bright, stubborn, skittish, and fearful animals. They won’t lay down unless the shepherd has created an atmosphere of peace and safety in the area. If they fall over, their thick wool makes it very hard to get up on their own. They cannot be driven, they must be led. Sheep are completely dependent on the shepherd.
Shepherds are responsible for their sheep. It is their job to see that all the impediments in a pasture are cleared away. A shepherd has to pull all the weeds, fill in all the potholes, and remove any poisonous snakes. It is his or her job to make sure there is quiet, safe drinking water in abundance.
The shepherds must carefully examine each sheep, looking for pests that would harm their flock. They have to keep track of where the animals are, even the one that wanders away so frequently. And, shepherds must be ready to defend the flock.
Bottom line: the needs and comforts of the shepherds are secondary to the needs of the flock.
Which brings us to the message this past Sunday, where we were encouraged to slow down, look around, and thoughtfully shepherd the flock around us. It begs the question, who are our sheep? Where is our “flock?”
Pastor Jason suggested that we look across the living room for some of our sheep. Our family definitely need the care and protection a shepherd must give. They clearly need to be led in spiritual matters and loved beyond measure.
Still, some of our sheep may be down the street or down the hall in a cubicle at work. These relationships are not accidental. God has sovereignly placed these folks in our flock. As we all go through the normal rhythm of life, we can be standing there in God’s stead. We can listen, care, support and prayerfully introduce them to our loving heavenly Father.
Our “flock” wanders into our church too. All around us are people who came to worship and hear a message, but mostly they came to connect. They are looking for a spiritual home with real people to do life with. We can shepherd them too. With a warm smile, we can assure them of our genuine interest and offer some invitations to get to know them better.
There are lots of different kinds of sheep in a flock. Some are easy to care for, others—not so much. But as we enter this new season at Coast Hills, the work of the ministry must go on, and it needs devoted shepherds who will cheerfully gather their flock for the journey.
Grab your staff, and let’s get at it!