Shepherding God’s Flock (3)
And He spoke a parable to them: “Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into the ditch? A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher.” Luke 6.39, 40
In his training manual for pastors, Gregory the Great wrote, “There are some who investigate spiritual precepts with cunning care, but what they penetrate with their understanding they trample on in their lives: all at once they are teaching the things which not by practice but by study they have learnt; and what in words they preach by their manners they impugn. Whence it comes to pass that when the shepherd walks through steep places, the flock follows to the precipice” (The Book of Pastoral Rule)
Those called to shepherd the flock of God should be diligent students and ready learners. We must apply ourselves to understanding the times as well as God’s Word, so that we know how to lead the sheep entrusted to our care into the richer meadows of full and abundant life in Christ.
Preaching alone won’t accomplish this. Nor will teaching. As important as these are, they must not command so much of a shepherd’s time, attention, and interest that we fail to employ all the tools God provides in the work of leading His sheep.
The apostles acknowledged three tools to be in the toolbox of the pastor: The Word of God, prayer, and personal example (Acts 6.4; 1 Pet. 5.1-3). Anything beyond or other than these is extraneous and possible distracting. These three must be developed and used in balance. We cannot shepherd the flock of God by the ministry of the Word alone. Nor will prayer, or prayer and the Word only, enable us to fulfill the noble task of shepherding. We must live the life of faith with vision, joy, power, courage, consistency, love, and holiness, so that what we preach and how we pray will lift the flock we serve to the heights of Christian living.
All God’s sheep are called to the work of shepherding, each according to his or her individual calling in life. This is implied in all the various “one another” passages in the New Testament. How will they learn to carry out this work in their own spheres unless they see and experience it modeled by the shepherds who watch over them?
Let the Lord’s sheep see in us an example of Christlikeness to accompany our Christ-centered teaching and Christ-exalting prayers. That way we will all together continue to ascend, and the danger of slipping over a precipice into sin will be eliminated.
Resources for Shepherds
Our course, “Shepherding God’s Flock”, is designed for shepherds to help them assess their ministries and discover ways of being more like Jesus in this important work. “Shepherding God’s Flock” is based on our workbook by that name. To order a free copy of Shepherding God’s Flock, click here. The course is available at The Ailbe Seminary at no cost and can be taken on your own or with a Reader to review your work. To receive an overview of the work of shepherding – and the contents of our workbook – watch this brief video.
Preaching is an important part of the work of a shepherd, but just because we stand behind a pulpit and spout spiritual words at people doesn’t mean we’re preaching. Well, it didn’t mean that for William Cowper, at any rate. The great poet and hymn-writer took issue with the preaching of his day in his lengthy poem, The Task. We have excerpted Cowper’s observations and concerns and woven them into an Essay on Preaching. You can order a free copy by clicking here.
From the Celtic Revival
Celtic Christians understood the life of faith within the framework of God’s Kingdom. Those who believe in Jesus are conveyed by Him into that Kingdom where He is at work making all things new. Here’s how the anonymous writer of The Book of the Order of Creatures (7th century) put it:
“But certainly those who attain the consolations of eternal life will themselves too lay hold of the bliss of the kingdom of heaven in a double way through the gift of the one who gives generously. For the kingdom of heaven is indeed promised to certain of those who are still on earth, while they are made poor for Christ’s sake. But although far off, it is granted again to those who persevere in toil and weariness, when it is said: Blessed are the poor in spirit because theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
- The Book of the Order of Creatures XIV.1
To learn more about life in the Kingdom of God, order a free copy of our book, The Kingdom Turn, by clicking here.
In the current Crosfigell series, we are looking at a Celtic Christian worldview through excerpts from The Book of the Order of Creatures. Here is an excellent opportunity to learn why we firmly believe we have much to learn from these ancient saints. Crosfigell is mailed every Tuesday and Thursday. Subscribe to Crosfigell today (click here to update your subscriptions). Be sure you click each teaching letter you want to receive, (including Pastor to Pastor), and follow us through our devotional study of this remarkable document.
If you’d like to explore a 28-day sampler of our Crosfigell teaching letter, order a copy of our devotional guide, Be Thou My Vision. In it you’ll find excerpts from writings of the period of the Celtic Revival, together with Scripture and meditations to help you grow in your vision of Christ, exalted in glory. Order your free copy of Be Thou My Vision by clicking here.
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. 25