Shepherding God’s Flock (20)
Therefore I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren to go to you ahead of time, and prepare your generous gift beforehand, which you had previously promised, that it may be ready as a matter of generosity and not as a grudging obligation. 2 Corinthians 9.5
We have seen that shepherds are appointed to lead the Lord’s flocks for growth and ministry. We do this in a variety of ways, but the goal must always be to help the saints stay on track with the Lord, seeking His Kingdom and righteousness and growing in grace and truth. We must help them get moving and keep going in their walk with and work for the Lord, and for this we must show the way by our teaching and example.
Getting the sheep started in the Lord is no small achievement. But it’s not enough for them to start well. They’ll need us to come alongside them to help them carry out their commitment and finish their work well, too. Gregory the Great (560-604) has some advice to help us here: “But, on the other hand, those who in no wise complete the good things they have begun are to be admonished to consider with cautious circumspection how that, when they accomplish not their purposes, they tear up with them even the things that had been begun…If then the strong hand of the worker carry not on to perfection the good things begun, the very slackness in working fights against what has been wrought” (The Book of Pastoral Rule).
The Corinthians had promised to help with the relief of the believers in Judea, but they had not performed their promise. People don’t typically do what we expect; they do what we inspect. So Paul decided to send “the brothers” ahead of him to get the gift ready.
Believers—including shepherds—must be continually exhorted to run their race, not to grow weary in doing good works, and to persevere in obedience. We know how easy it is to start something new, but how hard it can be to bring it to completion. But carrying out our commitments to completion brings the satisfaction of a task well done and a service fulfilled. We wouldn’t want to deprive the sheep of that, so, like Paul, we need to help our workers “carry…on to perfection the good things begun”.
This means praying for the sheep God has entrusted to us, showing by our example the joyous and fruitful life we can have in Jesus, and continuing to teach, encourage, and lead them toward the prize of the upward calling of God in Jesus Christ (Phil. 3.14).
Resources for Shepherds
Need a little help in the encouragement area? Our ReVision study on “Encouragement” shows you why this is such an important part of the work we’ve been given to do and how you can become a more consistent encourager. It’s a great study for personal or group use, and you can download all six installments by clicking here.
As a shepherd, you have an important role in equipping those who have been entrusted with teaching the Word of God to your flock. Elders, Bible study leaders, Sunday school teachers—all will benefit from whatever help you can give them. Our book, The Joy and Rejoicing of My Heart, is a basic handbook for improving our use of the Bible, both for our own lives and for those we teach. Order free copies for your Bible teachers by clicking here.
From the Celtic Revival
Our Crosfigell teaching letter continues the new series on Colum Cille, 6th-century founder of the Iona community.
As a shepherd, Colum knew that he must look to God for every aspect of his work:
Ah! Helper of all workers and
Blessed Ruler of all good; You stand
Continuous guard throughout the land,
Defending every faithful man,
Extending lowly ones Your hand,
Frustrating those who boastful stand…
Please, Lord, though I am little and
Quail wretchedly before Your hand,
Rowing hard against harsh winds and
Strong tumults and temptations grand,
That Jesus may reach out His hand
Unto me, I implore—His land,
Verdant and lovely, be my land!
- Colum Cille, “Helper of Workers” (excerpts, my translation)
The Venerable Bede (672-735) recorded of Colum and his ministry, “Columba arrived in Britain in the ninth year of the reign of the powerful Pictish king, Bride, son of Meilochon; he converted the people to the Faith of Christ by his preaching and example, and received from them the island of Iona on which to found a monastery…Before he came to Britain, he had founded a noble monastery in Ireland known in the Irish language as Dearmach [Derry], the Field of Oaks…From both of these monasteries Columba’s disciples went out and founded many others in Britain and Ireland…” You can read more about this in tomorrow’s Crosfigell column at www.ailbe.org.
Crosfigell 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
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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.
 Bede, pp. 148, 149.