What Good Shepherds Don't Do
We spend much of our energy calling people to our mission, to advance our church, to be evangelists, or even better—missionaries. And we do this with the best of intentions. We want to see God's work accomplished. What we forget is that Christ has called us to be shepherds who feed and tend, not masters who call. That is his job; they are, after all, his sheep. In Matthew 9 Jesus says, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few," but he does not tell his disciples to find, call, and send out more laborers. Instead, he instructs them to "pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers." Jesus does not outsource his responsiblity to call to us.
The instinct to protect the sheep under our care is a good one; heaven knows they need it. But when feeding and tending becomes controlling or determining life direction, we've overstepped our role. We may think it's our job to call as many people as possible into missions or church work. But a disciple's specific calling always comes from Christ. Our task is to lead them into deeper communion with him. Christ's sheep need a shepherd. They already have a Lord.
Skye Jethani is senior editor of Leadership Journal.
Copyright © 2012 by the author or Christianity Today/Leadership Journal.
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Skye Jethani is the executive editor of Leadership Journal, an ordained pastor, and the author of numerous books. He co-hosts the weekly Phil Vischer Podcast and speaks regularly at churches, conferences, and colleges. He makes his home with his wife and three children in Wheaton, Illinois.