14 October 2011

Shepherds of our Souls

“He said to him, ‘Tend My Lambs’ ...”
- John 21:15

October is a month packed full of awareness, special causes, and celebrations ... many of which are very dear to my heart! Did you know that this is Ministry Appreciation Month?

As a Christian constantly on a spiritual journey, I find it not only important, but necessary to have the support of mentors and leaders, and the guidance of teachers and pastors in my life. I cannot do it alone, nor does God want me to. He has chosen leaders to be “shepherds of our souls” (1 Peter 2:25). We are the flock and they are the “sheep-watchers.”

Isaiah 53:6 says that we are all like sheep... some of us have gone astray (Matthew 9:36), others of us have turned to our own ways, and still more are just waiting to play follow the leader. As we explore the pasture, these sheep-herders round us up – gathering us for Bible study, small groups, and other ministry opportunities. Did you know that sheep cannot be left alone for very long... they need continual care, and attention. As a sheep, our watchers come along side of us and offer guidance, interaction, and encouragement (Jeremiah 3:15). The shepherds also lead us – helping us to dig in to God’s word and understand the meaning, so that we can stay on the right path.

The role of a shepherd carries with it many responsibilities. There are many trials and struggles that go along with the joy and fulfillment of being a ministry leader. They face many challenges of balancing their roles as pastor, church leaders, and teachers with their roles such as son/ daughter, husband/ wife, father/ mother, and friend. God has reminded us that we need to appreciate our shepherds. Hebrews 13:7 tells us “Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.” We need to not only say “thank you” but lift them up in prayer, including both their personal and spiritual needs.

 Personal Needs: strong relationships, physical and mental well-being, effective use of time, wisdom for making personal decisions, opportunity to have fun and relax – including quality time with family and friends, protection from worldly evils.

Spiritual Needs: faithfulness, an intimate relationship with the Lord, daily time to read and study His Word, strength to stand firm in biblical truth, ability to hear and follow the Holy Spirit’s direction, protection over spiritual battles, contentment in their present calling.

It’s Friday, Let’s Sparkle ... action required ... Let’s think outside of the box and let our pastors and ministry leaders know that they are a blessing to us. Why not write a note of appreciation (include a poem, quote, favorite scripture verse, bookmarker, gift card), or do a service project (such as washing the Sunday school teachers cars, delivering a meal to the pastor, make a poster thanking all of the youth leaders in your church)? What other ideas can you come up with ... please feel free to share.

Just as we have a shepherd that watches over us, we too have a responsible as a follower of Christ ... ask yourself who are the “lambs” in your life, for whom you are responsible?  There are times that we are the sheep, other times when we are called to be a shepherd, but our Ultimate Shepherd is God ... Psalm 100:3 reminds us that “It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture.”

May you find blessings and peace in the pasture ...
In Christ, Donna Weaver

“The Lord is my Shepherd. He leads me beside quiet waters”
- Psalm 23:1-2

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