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Pastor to Pastor

Leading the Sheep

It's what shepherds do. Or should do.

Shepherding God’s Flock (19)

And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works,… Hebrews 10.24

Sheep need a lot of leading. A lot of encouragement. I recall being on the Transvaal in South Africa and going out with a shepherd to feed a portion of his flock. We rode in his pickup, and he had the food in bags in the back. He drove up to about 20 yards from a little flock of 10-15 sheep, opened the tailgate of his truck, cut open several bags of food, and dumped in on the ground at his feet. All the while, the sheep stood still, just looking at him. Then he walked a few paces toward them, gestured toward the food pile, and said simply, “Come, sheep, come.” And they did.

Aren’t we all a bit like that? Don’t we need encouragement, guidance, even urging at times? We all tend to fall into “set ways”, and it can become difficult to dislodge us from them. But if we’re going to be a people renowned for good works, someone has to stand between us and those good works and say, “Come, sheep, come.”

And that’s the job of a shepherd.

Gregory the Great understood this responsibility: “Differently to be admonished are they who do not even begin good things, and those who in no wise complete such as they have begun. For as to those who do not even begin good things, for them the first need is, not to build up what they may wholesomely love, but to demolish that wherein they are wrongly occupied. For they will not follow the untried things they hear of, unless they first come to feel how pernicious are the things that they have tried…” (The Book of Pastoral Rule).

Gregory understood that redemption is unto good works (Eph. 2.10), and he knew it is the pastor’s job to stimulate and equip those who are not inclined to good works to get them started (Eph. 4.11, 12). First, he insisted, you must show them that they’re wasting their time on useless, even “pernicious” matters if they are not occupied with the good works of the Kingdom. Then you can begin to exhort and lead them to the works God has prepared for them from of old.

Because the shepherd knows that it is only when the sheep are moving into the good works God has planned for us that we will find the satisfaction, growth, and delight in the Lord that He has for us there.

Resources for Shepherds

Our recent Crosfigell series on Columbanus has just been published as a book. Columbanus: A Devotional History offers 30 readings and meditations from the saint’s life and ministry to help us improve our own walk with and work for the Lord. You can download a free copy of this PDF by clicking here.

Another free resource you can download at the Ailbe website is our four-part ReVision study, “We Would See Jesus.” Paul seemed to think this was important (Col. 3.1-3), and seeing Jesus is, after all, where we’ll all arrive one day (1 Jn. 3.1-3). Why not study to improve our vision of Jesus, and thus to become more like Him (2 Cor. 3.12-18). Download the four installments in this series by clicking here.

If you haven’t browsed our bookstore lately, you might need to catch up on some recent publications. Here’s a link to show you all the free resources available in The Ailbe Bookstore.

From the Celtic Revival
Over at the Crosfigell teaching letter, we’re well into our new series on Colum Cille, 6th-century founder of the Iona community.

Colum understood that being leader of a flock of faithful disciples required a commitment to lifelong learning. Following his death in 597, his poet friend remembered Column’s commitment to learning:

He was learning’s pillar in every stronghold…
The teacher wove the word.
By his wisdom he made glosses clear.
He fixed the Psalms,
he made known the books of the Law,
those books Cassian loved…
The books of Solomon, he followed them.
Seasons and calculations he set in motion.
He separated the elements according to figures among the books of the Law.
He read mysteries and distributed Scriptures among the schools,
and he put together the harmony concerning the course of the moon,
the course which it ran with the rayed sun,
and the course of the sea.
He could remember the stars of heaven, the one who could tell all the rest
which we have heard from Colum Cille.

  - Dallán Forgaill, Amra Choluimb Chille[1]

Colum’s friend and colleague, Dallán Forgaill, was the composer of the hymn, “Be Thou My Vision.” He knew Colum well, and he describes his commitment to learn with admiration. All disciples of Jesu should be learners, seeking revelation from and about God in His Word and world. Colum Cille is an excellent example for us to follow, and you can follow him by subscribing to Crosfigell at our website.

is mailed every Tuesday and Thursday and offers insights and meditations on writings from the period of the Celtic Revival (ca. 430-800). You can add Crosfigell to your subscriptions 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

Support for Pastor to Pastor comes from our faithful and generous God, who moves our readers to share financially in our work. If this article was helpful, please give Him thanks and praise.

And please prayerfully consider supporting The Fellowship of Ailbe with your prayers and gifts. You can contribute online, via PayPal or Anedot, or by sending a 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.


[1] Thomas Own Clancy and Gilbert Márkus, Iona: The Earliest Poetry of a Celtic Monastery (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1995), pp. 107, 109.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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