1 Pet 5. Acts 20. John 21. All of these verses tell us to feed the flock, feed the flock, feed the sheep, tend the flock, care for the flock. Noteworthy: they all use the same word. Feeding the sheep is more expansive than giving the sheep food, more encompassing then simply filling their need to eat. It consists of bringing them to the food, of watching over them as they eat, as tending for them and caring for them and protecting them.
Of ultimate importance is that this flock is not our flock. It is the Lord?s heritage and when watching over them, tending them, we are not to do is as if they?re our own. We?re to do it with diligence, void of pride, purging false motivations, freely and functioning honestly.
Here?s a question, a question that was asked at a conference and seriously touched some nerves: What do we do about men who have positions of responsibility and no longer function in that position? The local church sometimes reduces the task of the elder to a glorified booking agent who makes sure the speakers are on the calendar; that is NOT what it means to feed the flock.
Just as ?apt to teach? does not mean being able to stand at the pulpit and delivery a good speech. Sure it may include that, but it is not limited to that. Some of the best teaching shepherds I have seen might do their teaching around a coffee table at six o?clock in the morning or around the dinner table at night. They might do it after the meeting or in the back-room?not necessarily the front of the meeting hall.
Assemblies sometimes get into cruise control! Just because the meetings are going on and people are coming does not mean that the real work of shepherding is being done. Real shepherding is done from an honest heart with the proper motivation.
About motivation, just because someone is paid doesn?t mean that they?re improrperly motivated. I like that Randy didn?t go to that extent as he showed the picture of a hireling. There are many hirelings that do preach for filthy lucre but there are others who are paid and are not convinced in that respect that they are not to be supported in such a manner, and they are legitimate shepherds who care for the flock. They aren?t doing it for the money but out of love for the Lord.
This requires perseverance, provision, protection and a pattern just as Paul in Acts 20 who (v19) served the Lord with humility, (v24) kept nothing profitable back, (v26) declared the full council of God, (v35) showed them all things as per Jesus? words.
The shepherd, like Peter, is not loving the flock for the flock?s sake but loving them for the Lord?s sake. ?If you love me? says Jesus ?feed the flock, tend the sheep, feed the flock!? And the flock isn?t to be drawn to the one sheperding nor is the concern of the shepherd to be the circumference around the sheep?but what is their center, foundational, pivotal to their survival; the Lord Jesus Christ.
Just as David received amazing promises from the Lord in 2 Sam 7, the glory and blessings of the Lord, we see that David first worked at turning the peoples eyes back to the Lord. He retrieved the ark and put it in their midst, central to their community, their being, their lives was the presence of the Lord and then, in 2 Sam 7 the Lord told him ?no longer a shepherd but a king? (v7-8)!
So work at it, hard, with diligence, laying down our own lives and looking to the Lord in our work.