Edwards on the Ministry (9)
…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 5.2, 3
When Jesus instructed Peter to feed and tend His sheep (Jn. 21.15-17), He established a pattern and template for the work of making disciples. The shepherds of God’s flock are called to make disciples (Matt. 28.18-20) and to equip the sheep in their care for works of ministry (Eph. 4.11, 12). Jesus outlined the work of shepherding in John 10, and He demonstrated throughout His ministry what that work must entail. As we have seen, shepherding God’s flock is a work of humble and obedient service.
So we’re not surprised that Jonathan Edwards wrote, “The ministers of Christ should be persons of the same spirit that their Lord was of: the same spirit of humility and lowliness of heart; for the servant is not greater than his Lord. They should be of the same spirit of heavenly-mindedness and contempt of the glory, wealth, and pleasures of this world: they should be of the same spirit of devotion and fervent love to God: they should follow the example of his prayerfulness; of whom we read from time to time of his retiring from the world, away from the noise and applauses of the multitudes, into mountains and solitary places, for secret prayer, and holy converse with his Father…” (Christ the Example of Ministers)
Christ came as a Servant. He fixed His mind unswervingly on His Father and His Father’s will, and devoted Himself to shepherding His followers to know, love, and serve Him. No one can be said to be following Christ Who does not assume this same posture and focus. God has called shepherds to serve His flock by the example of their humility and heavenly-mindedness, just as Jesus did. We must not allow the cheap thrills of worldly attention or rewards to influence the work and business we do in the name of the Lord.
Resources for Shepherds
Our Ailbe Seminary course, “Shepherding God’s Flock,” is free and can be taken by an individual or a group of shepherds. This course takes the teaching and example of Jesus seriously and shows today’s shepherds how they can emulate Him in their work of making disciples. Watch a preview of the course by clicking here.
Our book, Fan into Flame, considers the work of shepherding within the context of the Church and Kingdom, and gives shepherds an opportunity to assess their work from a variety of angles. It’s free of charge, and you can order your copy by clicking here.
Two more books can enhance your work of shepherding God’s flock. Understanding the Times will help you see why shepherding God’s flock and making disciples is so important in our day. Know, Love, Serve puts all our learning into the framework of Christ and His Kingdom. Check out the contents and an excerpt of each of these free publications by clicking here and here.
Don’t forget to visit the Resources for Shepherds page at our website. Here you’ll find short reviews of important resources, insights for growth and ministry, and other websites that can help you grow in the Lord and in your work of shepherding God’s flock.
From the Celtic Revival
Our present series in Crosfigell, our Tuesday and Thursday teaching letter, offers a devotional history of the Celtic Revival (ca. 430-800 AD) through the words of those who led it. Here is an excerpt from Sechnaill’s hymn about Patrick, his mentor and colleague. It’s the first hymn written in Ireland:
He keeps Christ’s blessed commandments in all things,
his bright deeds shine forth among men;
and they follow his holy miraculous example,
so that they too magnify God the Father in heaven.
- Sechnaill, on Patrick, Audite Omnes Amantes, Irish, 5th century
You can read the commentary accompanying this excerpt by clicking here.
Read more from the leaders of the Celtic Revival in recent issues of Crosfigell by clicking here.
T. M. Moore
We go through many seasons in our life, and not just those that mark the passage of a year. Our latest book of poems, Seasons, explains. 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.
 Carey, p. 152.