Wanted: Shepherds for the Sheep

Where are the pastors today? No time for visiting? Too busy? The wolves are busy scattering the sheep; divisions and worldliness press on every hand. Compromise, neglect of Christ’s interests, disregard of His honor - all these are present; where are the pastors today? The Church has all the gifts; there are brilliant orators, scholarly teachers; good men and true. There are schools and colleges; education can be gained by any desiring it. Surely the Lord has not forgotten the need of His people, nor is He indifferent when He sees them scattered as sheep without a shepherd. Where are the pastors today?

Feeding the sheep

Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away" (First Peter 5: 1-4). Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Spirit hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood (Acts 20:28). Words fail to express the solemnity of such a trust. Those who cost the precious blood of the Son of God, are committed into the hands of men! What an honor, what responsibility to be in any way permitted to feed the lambs, to shepherd the sheep of Christ. And ministry it is, of the most delicate and important character. Nothing but companionship with the Good Shepherd, with a sense of the value, the need of the sheep, can qualify one to walk in His steps.

The shepherd’s life is largely a quiet one. The flock cannot be over-driven or frightened. The main duty of the shepherd is to love the sheep. The rest will follow. He will feed them, causing them to lie down in green pastures; he will lead them beside waters of quietness. Brutal harshness may pass for firmness, but the shepherd never mistakes force and cruelty for strength. Love is firmer than wrath; it can "exhort, reprove, rebuke;" but it has previously gained the right to do this by showing patient love, and winning the confidence of the saints. There is an authority which appeals to the conscience; a firmness which weeps as it smites.

Let us hear the word of the Lord to His shepherds in a former dispensation. Thus saith the Lord God unto the shepherds; woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flocks? Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed; but ye feed not the flock. The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost; but with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them. And they were scattered because there is no shepherd....(Ezekiel 34:2-5).

Guarding the sheep

He that is an hireling and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth; and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep....I am the good Shepherd and know my sheep and am known of mine" (John 10:12,14). Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves; for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief; for that is unprofitable for you (Hebrews 13:17). Rule, if it be truly that, is shepherd care. The model shepherd was familiar with the sheep; indeed, his kingship was but an exalted shepherd care. He chose David also his servant, and took him from the sheepfolds; from following the ewes great with young he brought him to feed Jacob his people, and Israel his inheritance. So he fed them according to the integrity of his heart; and guided them by the skillfulness of his hands (Psalm 78:70-72). David looked on the people as a flock: These sheep, what have they done? (2 Samuel 24:17).

How beautiful it is to see a caretaker visiting in the homes of the saints. Danger threatens. The father has met one who has brought strange and deadly doctrines to his attention. He is interested; the specious (erroneous) teaching of the pamphlets attracts him. But he has a friend in whose judgment he confides; he will lay the matter before him, and the pastor is enabled to point out the error, to warn, even to admonish. What a work, what a privilege! He loves the sheep, and does the work.