He restores my soul… Psalm 23.3
The work of shepherds
Paul reminds us that the work of shepherds is to spend and be spent in serving those entrusted to their care (2 Cor. 12.15). The writer of Hebrews clarifies that it is the care of their souls which, mirroring the Lord’s care for ours, shepherds are most to be concerned about in their ministries (Heb. 13.17).
But what is the soul? Of what does it consist? How does it function? And what does a restored soul look like? How do we bring restoration to the souls of those we are called to shepherd?
It’s clear that, if we can’t answer these questions, we can’t fulfill our ministry.
Resources for Shepherds
With this in mind, I want to share some excerpts from our new ReVision series, “Strong Souls”. Understanding the nature and care of souls is the focus of this series, which began on Wednesday with a challenge to take more seriously this important calling. Over the next several months, our study will take us through a careful consideration of the soul and its components, and what we need to do as overseers of the souls of God’s people.
For now, some excerpts, based on Acts 14.21, 22 and the phrase, “strengthening the souls of the believers”:
“The most important part of our text is the phrase, ‘strengthening the souls of the believers’. Consider: Paul and his companions, and all the Apostles, wanted to make sure their message would take, the communities they had started would stick, and the movement of the Gospel and Kingdom would grow. So what did they do? They didn’t encourage these believers to build permanent facilities, hire more staff, increase their giving, or add some new and proven programs for ‘discipleship’.
“All they did was strengthen the souls of the believers. And that’s all it took. Strong souls made for courageous and loving lives, and this is how the first Christians turned their world rightside-up for Jesus.
“The Christian movement grows from the inside-out, from the depths of the transformed soul into the daily words and works that fill up the time of our lives. We can try to become more confident and consistent in our Christian lives by all manner of outward correctives or adjustments. But real change – change that lasts and generates increasing power – begins within, in the soul of each believer. If we want to turn our world rightside-up, we won’t need more mega-churches, the latest slick (and expensive) training programs, bigger budgets, or better staff. We cannot grow the Church from the outside-in.
“We’ll need believers with strong souls, souls strong on the spiritual steroids of grace and truth, souls that are growing and stretching out into the likeness of Jesus Christ, and directing the bodies they inhabit to restore their world for Jesus.”
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From the Celtic Revival
“We should strive then for the kingdom of heaven...the kingdom which the saints and the righteous strive for. It is a bright flower in its great purity, it is an open sea in its great beauty, it is a heaven full of candles in its true brilliance, it is the eye’s delight in its great loveliness and pleasantness...
- Anonymous, An Old Irish Homily, Irish, 9th century
T. M. Moore
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Davies, p. 368.