“May the Lord, the God who gives breath to all living things, appoint someone over this community to go out and come in before them, one who will lead them out and bring them in, so the Lord’s people will not be like sheep without a shepherd.” Numbers 27:16-17
Back in high school, as I was praying about my future direction, God spoke to me through our pastor one Sunday morning. He related the story of Peter meeting Jesus on the beach after the resurrection. Remember three times he challenged him to “feed my sheep.” It was as if Jesus were telling me to feed his sheep. So not long after that I decided to go into full time ministry.
I recently came across this devotional from Chuck Swindoll about being a shepherd that was so meaningful, whether one is a paid minister or not, I thought I would pass it on. Reflecting on the passage above in Numbers he says:
… In other words, “Lord, we need a man who realizes he must be in touch with the people before he can minister to them. He needs to be a people person.”
Moses was saying, “These people don’t need a mystic. They don’t need a man preoccupied by his love for research, as important as that may be. These folks don’t really need a super-efficient CEO or a brilliant organizational genius. They need a shepherd. They need a man who knows people, who will minister to people, understand people, and know how to guide people.”
In whatever capacity you might minister—as a Bible teacher, as a student preparing for the ministry, as a woman of God ministering in your area of giftedness—your ministry is primarily people, not shuffling papers, not crunching numbers, not making phone calls, not writing letters, not planning programs, or noodling over strategies for the next decade. Of course, all of those things must be done. I must sign and/or write an average of forty to fifty letters a week and get involved in planning sessions too. Administrative details need to be handled. (As few as I can get by with!)
Do you know the most common thing I hear from individuals just beginning to come to our church? They want very much to get to know some of us on staff, and they’ll say, “You don’t know me, but I come on Sunday to hear you preach.” And they almost apologize, as if to say, “Hey, I’m sorry to take your time, but I just want to shake your hand.” I go out of my way to say to each one, “You are as important as anybody else in this entire church. There is no insignificant member of the family of God.” I don’t say this to make a good public relations statement or to make a good impression. I say it because I believe it—because it’s true. Whoever you are, whatever you do, you are special before the God who has chosen you.
God’s people don’t need a brilliant CEO. They need a shepherd who knows them.1
Speaks to my heart, how about yours?
1August 18, 2016, “A Shepherd’s Heart”, from Today’s Insight with Chuck Swindoll, Crosswalk.com