Are You Easy or Difficult to Shepherd?
The first church that called my husband to be their pastor was a small church in the Deep South. Many of the church’s members had walked with Christ for decades, following in the footsteps of parents and grandparents who did the same. On the whole, the congregation was mature, well-taught, and marked by faithfulness to Christ.
Their new pastor was 25 years old.
Newly graduated from seminary, he came to the church with a sincere love for Christ and no experience as a shepherd. He learned to be a pastor one day at a time, pointing people—often people who had been walking with the Lord before he was born—to Christ. In turn, the congregation loved him. They knew he was inexperienced, but they didn’t despise him for his youth; instead, they gladly received his ministry. They knew he was their shepherd, and they determined to be willing sheep.
Throughout Scripture, God’s people are repeatedly compared to sheep. We are “the flock of God” (1 Pet. 5:2), and our ultimate shepherd is Christ. He is the good shepherd (John 10:14), the great shepherd (Heb. 13:20), the chief shepherd (1 Pet. 5:4), and the one shepherd (John 10:16). He’s the perfect shepherd-king, able completely to nourish and protect his people.
As he cares for the flock, Christ appoints men in local churches to serve as shepherds under his authority (Eph. 4:8, 11). These elders—or elders and pastors—have the job of caring for the sheep’s souls. A local church’s elders do not rule on their own merits or according to their own designs but as subjects and delegates of Christ the chief shepherd.