Shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain but eagerly, not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.—I Peter 5:2-4
Shepherding is hard work. It is serious business. There are big sheep to look after, little sheep to run after, lazy sheep to motivate, overzealous sheep to keep from running ahead, anxious sheep to calm, fearful sheep to reassure, wounded sheep to heal, sick sheep to nurse, lame sheep to carry; every kind of sheep we can think of are in the shepherd’s care.
With all those sheep and personalities, the shepherd might be inclined to shepherd the sheep with a domineering and overbearing hand but that is not what the chief Shepherd says they should do. The shepherd is to exercise good judgment and be a good example to the sheep.
It does not matter that shepherding is a thankless job and the weary shepherd should not seek accolades or gratitude from the sheep; that seldom happens anyway. But be assured when the chief Shepherd appears that weary and tried shepherd will receive all the praise and glory needed for a job well done.
We all have some experience in shepherding. If we have raised a family then we know some aspects of shepherding and the same principles of shepherding a flock apply here. Children or no children, married or not, life lived in community, whatever it looks like, will take the skills of a shepherd. A good shepherd knows it is not a domineering hand that is the best approach. It is not being harsh or brutal, but patience and gentleness must prevail.
Jesus can instruct the shepherding because he is The Chief Shepherd. He knows all the aspects of shepherding: that it can try your soul, frustrate you, discourage you, defeat, drive you to drink, curse, and throw in the towel, especially if you don’t know what you are doing; if the chief Shepherd is not the one leading and guiding you.
We can be encouraged today to apply the principles of shepherding to family life, married life, business life, and church life. Successful shepherding takes skill. Skills we cannot acquire on our own we will need a good example, we will need one who has expertise in this area, we will need to be humbled and submissive as we look to the one who is a Master at shepherding and if we do, then we will be just fine. Let’s Pray
Jesus, you are the chief Shepherd in charge. You know all about shepherding and what it takes to do it successfully. Help us in our little lives with our little flocks to shepherd in a way that is pleasing to you. Keep us from being overbearing and domineering but to learn patience, practice wisdom, and always looking to you for direction and guidance. In Your name we pray. Amen.