Daily Devotion Wednesday July 12, 2017
“Shouldn’t shepherds feed their sheep? You drink the milk, wear the wool, and butcher the best animals, but you let your flocks starve. You have not taken care of the weak. You have not tended the sick or bound up the injured. You have not gone looking for those who have wandered away and are lost. Instead, you have ruled them with harshness and cruelty.”
Ezekiel 34:2-4 NLT
Long before I joined ordained ministry, I did a lay pastoral work as a leader for the Christian Union (CU) at my College. At one point, I was challenged by one of the persons over whom I had a “pastoral” oversight for not having done my shepherding role well. It happened that one of my CU member, who also was one of the leaders in the committee that I led conceived to a fellow CU member before they were married. In the Christian tradition where I was brought up, such acts were considered great sin and offenders were usually looked on as deserters of the faith.
After it came to our notice that the lady conceived, through the advice of our chaplain, she was asked to resign her leadership role. She became guilty that she started avoiding our fellowships. As the CU leader, I barely didn’t do anything to follow her up in a bid to bring her back to the flock.
This continued for some time and the lady started to feel isolated and rejected by people whom she otherwise thought would be of help to her. I cannot imagine enough how she felt, but two things happened that proved to me that this lady desperately needed pastoral counselling and that she desired our fellowship.
One evening I received a text message on my phone from an anonymous phone alluding to the parable of the lost sheep where the shepherd had to leave the ninety-nine to look for the one which was lost (Luke 15:1-7). I wasn’t sure of the origin of the message but as I kept pondering on it, I realised it must have been from the sister whom we had nearly abandoned for having conceived before marriage which act we considered a grievous sin. Two days later, one of the ladies in my committee in the CU came to me with a message from this lady whom we have nearly abandoned, asking us not to look at her as a quitter. I felt embarrassed.
Before joining the college, I had taken a pastoral care course, so I wasn’t unaware that such a person needed our love and care the most if we were not to lose her from our fellowship—more so from the faith. I became aware of neglecting my shepherding role. Challenged by two messages through text and one of the CU officials, we finally arranged to visit our sister. We once again laughed together, encouraged each other and I could see a very big relieve in her face. Having repented of her sin, I couldn’t imagine enough the rejoicing in heaven over this sinner who had repented than the other ninety-nine who do not need to repent (Luke 15:7).
The action of the CU committee which I led for not following up this lost sheep was uncalled for. It was neglecting the shepherding role Christian leaders are supposed to play. Throughout the scriptures, the Lord has an analogy of shepherd and flock relationship between his people and their leaders. I have had much of my time as a young boy tending our father’s sheep. Whenever we take them for pasture and water, we always made sure that none get lost. And, if any does stray, we had to look for such to bring it back home.
Pastors and other leaders in the church are meant to do shepherding over God’s people. However, many pastors are after the returns from the flock than care for the sheep. This was the case during Ezekiel’s time when the priests and other religious leaders weren’t caring for the flock yet the longed to feed on the flock. The LORD God was not happy and, through Ezekiel, he rebuked the shepherds of his flock. The Lord expected the shepherds to take care of the flock by:
#1 Strengthening the weak
#2 Healing the sick
#3 Binding up the wounds of the injured
#4 Bringing back those which have strayed and or,
#5 Searching for the lost
As a result; the sheep were “scattered because there was no shepherd, and when they were scattered they became food for all the wild animals.” The Lord said; “My sheep wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. They were scattered over the whole earth, and no one searched or looked for them” (Ezekiel 34:5-6).
Dear colleague pastors and other church leaders, we are called to shepherd the flock of the LORD. Let us not be like the leaders of Israel who were eager to feed on the flock but not willing to take care of the sheep. We are called to strengthen the weak, heal the sick, bind up the injured, bring back the strayed or look for the lost. Let us remember our Lord Jesus’ charge to Peter whom he had charged to take care of the flock. Three times after having asked Peter “Do you love me?” the Lord replied; “Feed my lambs,” and again “Take care of my sheep” and for the third time; “Feed my sheep” (John 21:15-17).
This three-time charge wasn’t only for Peter, it is for all those called to pastoral ministry (lay or ordained). We must feed the flock by teaching them God’s word, by making sure our flocks are anchored in God’s word. We must encourage the discouraged, we must look for those who have strayed, those who keep missing our fellowships. We must also go after the sheep that are not yet in the flock.
If we are to be pastors, we should be willing to be shepherds of the flock. We must “be shepherds of God’s flock that is under [our] care, watching over them—not because [we] must, but because [we] are willing, not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to [us], but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away” (1 Peter 5:2). Amen! Rev. J
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture Quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version (NIV) 2011.
Rev. Julius Izza Tabi is the founding Director of this online New Dawn Ministries. He holds a Master of Philosophy in Religion, Society and Global Issues from the Norwegian School of Theology. Julius also is a pastor in the Anglican Diocese of Ma’di and West Nile of the Church of Uganda who believes that God’s timeless truth of salvation must be preached to all Nations. Help Donate here to support the New Dawn Ministries. You can also support this ministry by purchasing Julius’ popular books Triumphing Over Odds and Suffering and Pain? from Amazon. Thank you.