I’m reading through the highly recommended book The Shepherd Leader by Timothy Z. Witmer and discussing it with a friend who pastors Sovereign Grace Church of Pasadena (part of the Sovereign Grace Ministries family of churches). I answered the reflection questions at the end of chapter 1 to force myself to reflect for my own ministry and church’s benefit.
Why is the metaphor of shepherd appropriate for the relationship between God and his people?
God cares for his people the way a shepherd cares for his sheep. God has an intimate relationship with individual sheep and with his flock as a whole. God has redeemed and saved his people in a similar way that a shepherd saves his sheep. God’s care is comprehensive, complete, and sufficient.
Compare and contrast the imagery of shepherd and father as descriptions of the Lord’s relationship with his people.
Both show intimacy, care, and love between leader and follower. Both are wonderful and deserve extended meditation leading to loving God more. The difference is that shepherd image highlights the feed, lead, and protect functions of the leader where as the father image highlights the familial, relational, and authoritative aspects of the relationship.
Why is the metaphor of shepherd appropriate for those who would lead the people of God?
It’s appropriate because God uses that metaphor for leaders of his people. It’s appropriate because leaders are to lead the flock toward God, his will, and the kingdom of God. Leaders are to feed the people of God with the words of God so that they might feast on his Word and his glory. Leaders are to protect God’s people because they are under attack by their indwelling sin, the sins of others, Satan, and the worldly influences in culture.
Using the chart follow and identify the parallels. Discuss the implications for your ministry as shepherds of his flock today.
The Lord’s indictment
of faithless elders
The Lord as Israel’s Shepherd
The Shepherd to Come
|1. they feed themselves; not the flock (vv. 2-3)
2. They don’t tend the flock (v. 3)
3. They haven’t helped the needy but domineered them (v. 4)
4. The flock scattered and was astray (vv. 5-9)
|1. He will feed them in rich pasture (v. 14)
2. He will tend them in green pasture (v. 14)
3. He will help the needy and destroy those who domineer (v. 16-22)
4. He will look for the flock and gather them (v. 11-13)
|1. He will tend them in a place rich with produce
2. He will tend them (v. 23)
3. He will tend them in a secure place
4. They will be secure and together
The implications for my ministry today are that with the 24 other members of CrossView Church, I’m called to feed them the Word of God and give them as much content of biblical truth as possible for them to digest and be blessed from. Secondly, I am to tend them and lead them to green pastures. I should know where they are spiritually and lead them with the rest of the church to secure and green pastures where they can enjoy Christ, know Christ deeper, and make him known together with the rest of the church. Thirdly, I must protect them from their indwelling sin by knowing them, talking to them, warning them, and speaking the truth to them. I should also guard them from other members of the church or friends outside the church who might be harming their relationship with Christ and their journey towards the city that is to come (to mix metaphors). Lastly, as a shepherd, I need to make sure that they stay together. We have no straying sheep right now, but we do have some members who are farther from the rest of the flock for one reason or another. I should be following up on them and making sure that they are not going astray or separating themselves from the rest of the flock. Another important implication is to educate the members of the church that they are accountable to God, each other, and their pastors to staying together and seeking Christ together. A biblical and consistent practice of church membership is imperative for this end.
Please let me know if you have any thoughts on this topic.