Calling all spiritual leaders: We need you now more than ever!
Have you ever wondered why pastors are called shepherds throughout history?
The Greek word for pastor is Poimen, which means shepherd or overseer.
A pastor’s calling is much like those who care for sheep. They care for the wounded and sick, rescue the lost and trapped and guide to places of nourishment and rest. The result of this relationship builds a trust in the sheep that recognizes and depends on the shepherd for healing and direction.
Thank God for our spiritual shepherds!
But there’s another thing good shepherds do. They watch for wolves and fight them off to protect their sheep. Like David when he was a shepherd boy. He fought off devouring beasts and would not let them touch a single one of his flock.
So the question is: Would a shepherd be good if he refused to identify and fight the wolves?
Let’s read the words of the ultimate, good Shepherd:
“I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep” (John 10:11-15).
The spirit of Christ compels all spiritual shepherds to recognize danger and lay their lives down for those that follow them.
If you want to be a good shepherd, you can’t run away from wolves.
This was the understanding of pastors in colonial America. Listen to the words of William Bradford, the first governor of Plymouth Plantation, when he spoke about his spiritual shepherd, Rev. John Robinson:
“For besides his singular abilities in divine things (wherein he excelled), he was also able to give directions in civil affairs and to foresee dangers and inconveniences, by which means he was very helpful to their outward estates, and so was every way as a common father unto them.”
Wow. Good spiritual shepherds are like fathers.
Can you imagine a father camping with his family and sitting idly by the campfire roasting a marshmallow as a wolf shows up and devours his children? No chance! Not a real father – not a good shepherd.
In the same way, spiritual shepherds are called by God to not only nourish and care for their sheep but also to identify and defeat the wolves that seek to devour them, like a loving father for his family.
Last week, when we read George Barna’s research about how few pastors felt it necessary to address the “issues” of the day, we felt an urgency to pray for good shepherds to rise up and step in.
Barna shared with American Family Radio’s “Today’s Issues” the results after two years of research:
“What we’re finding is that when we ask them (pastors) about all the key issues of the day [90 percent of them are] telling us, ‘Yes, the Bible speaks to every one of these issues.’ Then we ask them: ‘Well, are you teaching your people what the Bible says about those issues?’ – and the numbers drop … to less than 10 percent of pastors who say they will speak to it.”
Did you catch that? Ninety percent say the Bible has answers to the cultural issues of the day, yet only 10 percent are willing to speak about those things. That’s a problem.
Scripture shows us that shepherds are some of the few people with the ability to identify good from evil. “For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil” Hebrews 5:13-14.
So if pastors, who have their senses trained to discern good from evil, will not shepherd their flock to do the same, of course the flock will get devoured by evil. The flock can’t discern the wolves.
And as expected in this situation, today we see wolves devouring the flock. These wolves – ideas and agendas set against biblical values and religious liberties – are free to roam and eat up anyone they please. It’s like a feeding frenzy right now.
So we’re asking spiritual shepherds around this nation to rise up!
One of the quotes that encourages us to never run from the wolves is by Martin Luther:
“If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition, every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christianity. Where the battle rages the loyalty of the soldier is proved; and to be steady on all battlefields besides is mere flight and disgrace to him if he flinches at that one point.”
Spiritual leaders, if you’re reading this, please know that you have a flock of sheep that’s longing for you to stand up to the wolves. We know it’s tough, and you may lose a lot in the world’s eyes, but you have been called to be a good shepherd for such a time as this!