Thursday, 28 July 2016

Pastoral Obligations Of A Sheperd To His Flock

I may think, from the words of Jesus, that the obligation of the shepherd to the sheep is simply, his life. According to Jesus, “the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.”(John 10:11b) The shepherd’s life is the greatest asset he can offer to his flock. Everyone who is not prepared to lay down his life for the sheep is not a shepherd! Can I just repeat that…everyone, who is a good preacher, demon-caster or gifted person but is not prepared to lay his life for the flock is not worth of being a shepherd.
A Good Shepherd lays his life for the sheep.
a) Sacrificial love
Ladies and gentlemen, Christian ministry is not a walk in the park, it is not a self-fulfilling adventure or egocentric(self-centred) profession, it is declaring that any outside forces will only destroy my flock literally “over my dead body,” that is only after they kill me. Infact, to put it in other words, you must first know that you are dead so as to qualify to be a good shepherd or else you will simply be a hireling who does not have the sheep at heart and will run for “dear life ”when the enemy comes! I salute men like Lawrence Khong, pastor of a more than 12 000-member church in Singapore. He says: “…I agonise and lose sleep over lives. I cry over people with problems…especially when someone is trapped in the deception of sin, I pray hours for him or her. And what joy overwhelms me when I see a breakthrough(sic)…Jesus’ description of shepherding in John 10 shows that the greatest authority belongs to those who lay down their lives for their sheep…without a shepherd’s heart, all else means nothing”(p 106)

The greatest motivation of the shepherd to die for his flock is first and foremost, the love of his king, the one who really owns the flock and secondarily the love for the flock. It is not as if, he hates his own life, only that he loves his master and flock more than his life. His motivation is not the job nor is it the remuneration he will get but love. One thing that makes the ministerial call the noblest of them all is his aspect of self-sacrifice. By becoming a soldier you are sacrificing your life for your nation and this is great. I salute the forces which protect their nations. Moreover I honor men and women who sacrifice their lives for Heaven’s greatest asset on earth, human souls. A man or woman of God must give his/ her life for the flock that Jesus, the King, entrusted to him/her. This must be done solely for the love of Christ in him or her.

b) Relationship
Just as we give names to our own pets, these Palestinian shepherds would also give their sheep names. The shepherd would call their names one at a time. Sometimes the flock would be inter-mingled with other sheep and when their shepherd would call them by name, they would recognise both their name and the distinct voice of their shepherd (Freeman,op.cit p518). When a stranger came along and tried to take them they would not respond. Even if when the stranger knew them by name, they would not respond because through close relationship with their shepherd they knew his voice. Such was the relationship of the minister and his flock with church. 

c) Protection
The pastor protects his flock against outside influences just as the shepherd used to protect his flock against lions, bears, hyenas and jackals. In such a scenario the shepherd had to strike back at the marauding enemies (Gower op cit p 138) and even fight for his own out of the enemy’s mouth. In this type of battle a hired hand that had no commitment would run for his life but a good shepherd would put his life on the line to protect his flock. If he failed he had to make good any losses to the owners like in Gen 31:39 or Exodus 22:10-13(op.cit). The pastor should know that he will also give an account for each and every lamb before God Almighty. When a lamb got lost, it was solely the duty of the shepherd to look for it until found. Pastors should put in place structure and initiatives to try and restore lost souls to God.

d) Feeding and watering
The shepherd was supposed to lead the flock to fresh pastures. God promised us that he will give us shepherds after his own heart to feed us: “And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding” (Jeremiah 3:15). This would keep the flock healthy and growing (physically and numerically). In times of dry seasons the shepherd would take the sheep away from that area to another area where there would be dried grass and a supply of still waters, as sheep favour still waters. When the surface water disappered the shepherds would look for well water to give to the flock. In like manner the good pastor must be in a position to be well equipped to fully feed his church with the Word of God, in season and out of season

By Apostle Pride Sibiya

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