Shepherding God’s Flock (14)
Keep your heart with all diligence,
for out of it spring the issues of life. Proverbs 4.23
Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you. 1 Timothy 4.16
Shepherds are set among the flock of God to keep a close watch over their lives and wellbeing. They must “be diligent” to know the state of their flock (Prov. 27.23)—their spiritual lives, daily struggles, hopes, dreams, aspirations, and needs.
But they will not be motivated to do this, nor very effective at this work, unless their inward lives in the Lord are vital and growing. Paul echoed Solomon in calling for a careful watching over ourselves, to make sure our inward lives are what they should be before the Lord. Gregory the Great (ca. 540-604) also understood the importance of caring for our lives within as we work to do that which was without: “The ruler should not relax his care for the things that are within in his occupation among the things that are without, nor neglect to provide for the things that are without in his solicitude for the things that are within; lest either, given up to the things that are without, he fall away from his inmost concerns, or, occupied only with things that are within, bestow not on his neighbours outside himself what he owes them” (The Book of Pastoral Rule).
This advice applies both to our own growth and ministry, as we saw in an earlier excerpt, and to what we seek to nurture in others as well. Often we might think that getting someone through some program, so that he gains some outward skill or ability, is what matters most. But without the inner strength to deny himself, his outer skills won’t be worth the effort he made to acquire them. And if we neglect to direct the flock in specific outward ways of loving one another, all their inner growth will be consumed on themselves and without abiding fruit.
Pay attention to the state of our flocks and ourselves, both within and without, in our souls and in our walk with and work for the Lord.
Resources for Shepherds
Men, we hope that many of you will join one or both of our fall reading groups. These are conducted via Zoom, include reading and discussion guides, and provide a great opportunity for meeting new friends and growing in the Lord.
Here’s the schedule for our fall reading groups:
The Lewis Group will be reading and discussing The Great Divorce. We will meet every other Friday at 3pm Eastern, beginning September 8. Reading and discussion guides will be provided. The Lewis Group is led by Charlie Hammett and me.
On alternating Fridays at 3pm Eastern, beginning September 15, Ralph Elmerick and I will lead a discussion of Robert Banks' outstanding study, Paul's Idea of Community. Be sure you order the third edition of this classic work. We’ll provide the reading and discussion guides.
From the Celtic Revival
In our Tuesday/Thursday teaching letter, Crosfigell, we are continuing our devotional study of the life and ministry of Columbanus. On Tuesday, I’ll elaborate on these two quotes, one from Columbanus’ biographer, the monk Jonas, and one from Columbanus:
So greatly did the man of God abound in faith, that whomsoever he consecrated, the last day found persevering in good works. And those whom he warned, rejoiced afterward that they had merited immunity. Nor did he, endued with so great strength, undeservedly obtain an increase of grace, who guided by his learning, was unwilling to deviate from the path of a just life.
- Jonas, Life of St. Columban
What is the best thing in the world? To please its Creator. What is His will? To fulfill what He commanded, that is, to live rightly and dutifully to seek the Eternal; for duty and justice are the will of Him Who is dutiful and right. How do we seek this goal? By application. Then we must apply ourselves in duty and justice. What helps to maintain this practice? Understanding, which, while it winnows the remainder and finds nothing solid to rest in amongst those things which the world possesses, turns in wisdom to the one thing which is eternal.
- Columbanus, Sermon III
Consistency in making disciples is the calling of every shepherd of God’s flock. If we do our work well in this arena, our churches will be blessed for generations to come.
But what does the work of making disciples entail? Our ReVision study, “Disciples Making Disciples”, outlines the teaching of Scripture on this important work. You can download the five installments in this study by clicking here.
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).
If you’d like to learn more about the Celtic Revival (ca. 430-800 AD), order a free copy of our book, The Celtic Revival: A Brief Introduction, by clicking here. Our book, The Legacy of Patrick, shows from the life of this first great Celtic evangelist why this period of Church history is so important. Order your free copy by clicking here.
Visit our Resources for Shepherds page to read reviews and insights and to discover websites and journals, that can encourage you in your walk with and work for the Lord.
T. M. Moore.
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 Anedot, or you can send your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 103 Reynolds Lane, West Grove, PA 19390.
Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
 Jonas, p. 30
 Walker p. 73