The Minister as Shepherd: The Shepherd’s Charge

A minister can scamp his pastoral work and still retain his position as the shepherd of the flock, but he cannot retain his position in God’s kingdom. The unfaithful shepherd is punished by a penalty automatically inflicted and unescapable. Little by little his conscience is deadened, the heart becomes less sensitive, the spiritual eye loses its keenness, and the culprit, still outwardly devout and publicly honored, is pushed slowly but inexorably by the hand of the Almighty into deeper depths of that outer darkness prepared for all who are recreant to their trust. Men shirk pastoral service not because they are strong, but be- cause they are weak. They have not sufiicient strength to bend their life to the life of Christ. It is the weaklings and not the giants who neglect their people. It is the Pagan and not the Christian who shines in public and leaves undone the private duties which belong to him as an ordained stew- ard of the Son of God. When a man says, I hate pastoral work, and do as little of it as I can — if he had ears to hear, he could hear the Spirit saying : ” Thou fool ! ”

A few things are certain. We live in a universe created by a Shepherd God. The Lord is our shepherd. Our world is re- deemed by a Shepherd Saviour. Our elder brother is a shepherd. The man whom humanity most needs is a shepherd. Every messenger of Christ is sent to do a shep- herd’s work. We are to stand at last be- fore a shepherd Judge. God is going to separate the good shepherds from the shep- herds who are bad. The questions which every pastor must meet and answer are three : ” Did you feed my lambs ? Did you tend my sheep? Did you feed my sheep ? ”

 

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