Much has been written about a recent trend of “successful” and perhaps more entrepreneurial pastors expanding their reach to bless a wider group through books, talking tours and nationwide conferences. Many say it may not be God asking them to separate for as long as they do from the assembly in the local church and, as seen in some scenarios, even resigning thriving pastorates to respond to the call through other ventures.
Christianity Today wrote recently in an article of many like Francis Chan, Jim Belcher, N. T. Wright and, now Rob Bell, leaving local church pastorates, some of which were churches they themselves had planted for what seems like more lucrative full-time conference and book ministry. It would appear that the local pastorate can provide an excellent platform that paves way for a broader more exciting and financially rewarding foray that does not require the tough ethical and doctrinal accountabilities (hassles) shepherding demands of the weary pastor whether in a small church or as part of a larger denomination. The sheep need a pastor to see Christ in and mentoring to maturity. As pastors leave, what happens to the sheep of Christ. Who will visit the unlovable in an era of do-it-yourself Christianity … and who will watch day and night in prayer over the careless?
The sheep may appear to have found new online savvy but they cannot see Christ as well on a podium or on a TV screen or on a blog as when they can feel the life of their pastor in his marriage, home and in how he masters challenges and defeats demons resisting him. In reality, the sheep want to be visited, heard and encouraged sometimes when the shepherd is exhausted and close to a nervous wreck battling his own challenges.
John 21 … Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.  He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep.  He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.
Jesus spoke to Simon Peter and asked if he loved Him more than “these”. “These” would be fame, money, acclaim, ease, comforts, lofty personal aspirations and agenda. If the answer is yes, then go and carry and feed the young silly sheep (lambs) and also their older sometimes unpredictable prickly parents. Christ needs those who love Him to pastor the sheep where He sends them – and remain there.
Pastoring as Christ ordained cannot be as thrilling as many would want it to be otherwise Christ will not repeat himself in three different sentences that the evidence of love for Him will be the patient duty of carrying the weak and rescuing the undeserving perishing. Feeding sheep includes staying awake to protect them from wolves, running to the cliffs to rescue some from falling headlong, helping to free the young unheeding lamb caught in a rough thicket, bringing out one that has fallen into a ditch, finding good pasture – leading and helping the thirsty to the quiet streams for a refreshing drink. This will require both the rod and staff as teaching tools – not just power-point and jazzy multimedia.
The elegant and sophisticated Egyptians despised Shepherds and looked down at them, considering them to be the inferior of men … they typically earned the lowest wages and stayed outdoors and were smelly.
Genesis 46 … for every shepherd is an abomination to the Egyptians.
The modern day shepherd has fared much better, and the pastor will have found many other pastimes on the internet, writing, touring, doing nationwide seminars – earning millions of dollars from a gift that a wider audience will pay for. Is this not part of the call and is God against rich and famous pastors? Surely not.
Sheep in recent times have also become more risky to handle, and many wolves in sheep clothing have devoured not just other sheep but less discerning shepherds … and some may ask in their low moments – am I called to this. Christ does not ask everyone to feed His sheep, only those who have been given the rare grace to love Him more than “these”.
Or perhaps Christ should have said “Feed my lamb, feed my sheep…and feed yourself”
( Published in The Christian Post )