The LORD is their strength,
And He is the saving refuge of His anointed.
Save Your people,
And bless Your inheritance;
Shepherd them also,
And bear them up forever. Psalm 28.8, 9
The work of shepherds
It’s surprising how often God refers to Himself as a shepherd. Of course, people in the Old and New Testaments were familiar with shepherds and their work. It was humble work. Long hours, low pay, and not much thanks from anyone.
The work of shepherding in Psalm 28.8, 9 is seen as in addition to His other work of strengthening, saving, and blessing His people. To “shepherd them” (Heb. וּֽרְעֵ֥ם, ur’em) means to watch, observe, or care for the people, and to “bear them up” whenever they need it.
The purpose of this watching, observing, caring, and bearing-up was that the sheep might be safe, healthy, and fruitful. That is, that they might realize the full potential of their “sheepness.”
As shepherds, our work is to help the people of God realize the full potential of their discipleship. As Paul put it, “Him [Christ] we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily” (Col. 1.26, 27).
But that assumes we understand what the “full potential of their discipleship” looks like. If we don’t have a good idea about this, all our watching and observing and caring and bearing-up will be in vain.
Our ReVision series, “Disciples Making Disciples”, seeks to flesh out both aspects of discipleship – being and making. We’re well into the series at this time, but you can download the available studies thus far by clicking here.
Resources for Shepherds
For a more detailed look at the work of shepherding, order a free copy of our workbook, Shepherding God’s Flock by clicking here.
Jesus, of course, is the Good Shepherd. Perhaps if we could see our work the way He saw His we might be more effective in helping the Lord’s sheep realize the full potential of their sheepness. Our Insights column is following the Gospel of Mark through the eyes of Jesus, to help us learn to see as He did.
If you missed our first InVerse Theology Project installment on “An Essay on Preaching”, featuring some powerful insights from William Cowper, you can listen by clicking here.
Rusty Rabon’s new podcast, A Song to the Lord, helps us understand why all those great old hymns were so great. Listen here, then update your subscriptions to receive A Song to the Lord each week.
From the Celtic Revival
“Observe the sorrow of our training, understand that we do not pass from joy to joy nor from security to security, but from grief to joy and from trial to security. Thus we must patiently bear brief sorrow, that we may obtain eternal joy; and the light measure of our trial must be endured with readiness, that we may attain the eternal life of great glory.
- Columbanus, Sermon IV
T. M. Moore
Know, Love, Serve
Our new book, Know, Love, Serve can help you to lay out a plan for reading and study that will bring you closer to the Lord and help you grow in the work of shepherding. Order your free copy by clicking here.
It is our privilege to provide resources and opportunities to equip and encourage church leaders in building the Lord’s Church and advancing His Kingdom. Please pray that God will move many of those we serve through this ministry to share with us financially in its support. If the Lord moves you to give, you can use the Contribute button at the website to give with a credit card or through PayPal, or you can send your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 360 Zephyr Road, Williston, VT 05495.
Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All Psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter.
 Walker, pp. 79ff.