True pastoral calling and ministry – Part 2
Jer 3:15; 23:4.
A true shepherd is close to his sheep and will not distance himself from them and their needs. He knows them well. He is close enough to notice the wolf circling the frightened flock. His voice calms the sheep.
• “He leadeth me beside the still waters”
True shepherds provide clean water for the flock. If the water is polluted, contaminated and ruffled, the sheep will not drink. Thirsty sheep will always
stampede in the direction of water. You can dig wells of fresh water for your sheep, else, they go for polluted and contaminated ones.
• “He leadeth me in the part of righteousness” vs 2, 3
Herding is not leading. The true shepherd gives the direction of the journey. He charts the course, pinpoint the danger zones and leads to green pastures. He must bring the flock to place of refreshing. In places of danger, he goes before, in places of safety, he comes behind.
A good shepherd does not drive the sheep from the rear of the flock. It is better to lead from the front than to push from the back. Sheep lack direction and are afraid of the way when the shepherd is not leading them wisely, gently and confidently from the front.
• “Through the valley of the shadow of death” vs 4
Every shepherd knows that the path will not be easy. Some days are filled with sunshine and green pastures. Others are filled with shadows and winds. Valley of death is not always physical: hope dies, faith dies, marital fidelity dies, trust and confidence dies. In each case, the pastor must come alongside and walk through these valleys with those who are hurting.
• “Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me” vs 4.
The rod must correct, rescue wayward sheep and bring comfort to the sheep. The rod is used to detect any injuries sustained by the sheep.
The staff drives away snakes, draws a sheep closer for nurturing, reassurance and encouragement. Each staff is unique to each shepherd.
The word and gifts of the Spirit often become a rod and staff in the hands of the anointed pastor.
• “In the presence of my enemies” vs 5
The shepherd and the sheep are the targets of the enemy. A good shepherd will protect himself and the sheep against the onslaught of the enemy. If the shepherd falls, the sheep will scatter. Zechariah 13:7. When the pastor fails, the protection is removed from the flock, leaving them vulnerable to the enemies’ attack. Shepherds must stay with sheep for a long time so as to lead them to true fruitfulness. The sin of the shepherd is the sin of the congregation.
• “Goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life” vs 6.
That is the end for those who have come under the care of a good shepherd. They have survived the trials and temptations of life. The broken has been healed.
The lost have been found. It is a good end.
The shepherd himself ends well too. By having good mentors, fear of the Lord, a learning posture and continuous spiritual growth, all ends well, both for the sheep and the shepherd. 1 Tim. 4:16.
From the foregoing, we can see that pastoring involves so much more than just preaching on Sunday. It is a tough job that requires much grace, wisdom, anointing and patience. He that is not truly called and gifted for such task cannot really be effective. Grow and bloom where you are planted.
Every truly called pastor must sow seed of life, feed the people and lead them to the promisedland.
Dr. Francis Akin-John, Church Growth Consultant,
Growth Centre, 6/8, Mukadaz Close, Off Palace Way, Iyana-odo B/Stop, Isheri-LASU Road, Lagos. 08023000714 firstname.lastname@example.org