Shepherding God’s Flock (5)
Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1.6, 7
Imagine a college football recruiter who has come to a high school game to watch one player. Let’s say he’s a tight end. The recruiter will have a checklist, if only in his mind. Can he block? Does he run good patterns? Can he catch? Does he hustle? Does he encourage his teammates? Listen well to his coach? And he’ll also ask his coach, Does he work hard to improve in all these areas?
Just because someone is on a team doesn’t mean he has, or is using, or continues to improve in all the gifts and abilities his position requires.
The same is true for those who have accepted the call to shepherd God’s flock.
Gregory the Great warned those whom God had endowed with gifts for shepherding that they must earnestly seek to put them to good use. By implication, he urged those who already were in ministry to make sure they had, were using, and were continually improving in all their gifts for ministry: “For there are some who are eminently endowed with virtues, and for the training of others exalted by great gifts, who are pure in zeal for charity, strong in the might of abstinence, filled with the feasts of doctrine, humble in the long-suffering of patience, erect in the fortitude of authority, tender in the grace of loving-kindness, strict in the severity of justice. Truly such as these, if when called they refuse to undertake offices of supreme rule, for the most part deprive themselves of the very gifts which they received not for themselves alone, but for others also; and, while they meditate their own and not another’s gain, they forfeit the very benefits which they desire to keep to themselves” (Book of Pastoral Rule)
Read again that catalog of “virtues” and “gifts” required of those who are called to pastoral ministry. Do these describe you? Charitable to a fault? Abstaining from the lusts of the flesh? Feasting on doctrine? Patient, wielding authority justly, gracious, kind? Gregory sought such men to serve as pastors in the Church. We who are pastors and shepherds must diligently seek these virtues and gifts. And we must continually strive to improve in them, for the benefit of God’s people and the edification of His Church.
Resources for Shepherds
For an overview of pastoral ministry, together with self-assessment tools to help you improve in every area, check out our book, Fan into Flame. Learn more about this book and order a free copy by clicking here.
From the Celtic Revival
The Christian faith is forward-looking. A day is coming when we will see Jesus and be like Him. He will bring us into the new heavens and new earth for everlasting righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. And although we cannot now know fully what that means or will be like, we know truly that it will be. This was the point the anonymous author of The Book of the Order of Creatures made in our final installment in that Crosfigell series, which will be posted tomorrow:
But as to those things too which we touch in some measure, as it were through a narrow window, by the enlightenment of His grace, we cannot know them all perfectly as is proper: for we know in part, as long as we are in this age; but if we come to that inestimable light of the Father of lights, then we shall know even as we are known.
- The Book of the Order of Creatures XV.12
That we know in part now buoys and excites us, just as when Jesus, hanging on the cross, looked ahead to the joy that was set down before Him. Seeing in part is not everything, but it’s enough for now.
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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. 28