Links Daily Devotional

Are You a Shepherd?

So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: 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. (1 Peter 5:1-3, ESV)

My favorite Bible teacher, George DeJong, is leading a new trip this summer, called “Shepherd Leadership,” and I recently heard a taste of one of the lessons he is preparing about how we not only need a Shepherd (Jesus), but how we also need to be a shepherd. It will be impossible to share the entirety of George’s message, but I would like to turn over a few of the spiritual nuggets that have settled in my heart.

Three iconic shepherd leaders that stand out in my mind are Moses, King David, and Jesus. Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt and through 40 years in the wilderness with humility, passion, and constant intercession for the Israelites. King David stood up for God’s people by killing Goliath with his slingshot skills and was an example of a man after God’s own heart. Our good Shepherd, Jesus, loved so extravagantly that he laid down his life that all might have life.

I was surprised to learn that out of all the New Testament writers, Peter was the only one who wrote about shepherding in his letters. He said in today’s passage, “Shepherd the flock of God that is among you…” Why did Peter tell us this and, further, suggest that we are to do so willingly and eagerly?

Peter’s own story reveals why shepherding was so important to him. It’s not difficult to understand that Peter was a “witness of the sufferings of Christ.” He was physically present for the crucifixion, after all. Is it possible that Peter also witnessed and experienced a level of spiritual and emotional suffering with Jesus? In Gethsemane, Peter was with Jesus as he cried out to God three times to “let this cup pass from me” (Matthew 26:39). Not long after, Peter not only abandoned Jesus but also denied Jesus three times (Matthew 26:75). In that culture at that time, the historical writings suggest it was better to deny the presence of God than to deny your Rabbi. In other words, with God there is forgiveness, but with your Rabbi there was no forgiveness! With this knowledge, Peter would have perceived that he had put himself too far outside of God’s grace and went out and wept bitterly.

Bless God there is more to Peter’s story! While cooking over an open fire on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, Jesus fed Peter a meal and then gently uncovered his shame with three questions and three commands for Peter to feed and tend Jesus’ sheep (John 21). Jesus restored Peter to his position of leadership and into “the glory that is going to be revealed.”

With all of this in his background, Peter wrote with passion about the importance of being a shepherd of the flock of God because his own Shepherd pursued him with love and forgiveness when he was feeling lost and unclean.

Over the course of my amateur and professional career, God blessed me with two shepherds who taught me how to swing a golf club and encouraged me to achieve more than I thought possible. My good Shepherd found me during a confusing time in my life and offered me a love I had never known before. As I enter into deeper places of sorrow and blessing in my own story, my heart is growing in capacity to care for and watch over, to guard, comfort and protect, and to offer shalom to God’s flock willingly and with great eagerness.

Tracy Hanson
June 23, 2014
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