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Pastor to Pastor

The Example of John (2)

Edwards commends him to us.

Shepherding God’s Flock (23)

As they departed, Jesus began to say to the multitudes concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? But what did you go out to see? A man clothed in soft garments? Indeed, those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses. But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I say to you, and more than a prophet. Matthew 11.7-9

John is one of those “minor” characters in Scripture whom it is easy to pass by in seeking examples and instruction for the work of pastoral ministry.

John’s greatness was not lost on Jonathan Edwards, who wrote, “He also shone bright in his conversation, and his eminent mortification and renunciation of the enjoyments of the world; his great diligence and laboriousness in his work, his impartiality in it, declaring the mind and will of God to all sorts without distinction; his great humility, rejoicing in the increase of the honour of Christ, though his honour was diminished, as the brightness of the star diminishes as the light of the sun increases; and in his faithfulness and courage, though it cost him his own life” (The True Excellency of a Gospel Minister).

John provides a rich catalog of virtues toward which every shepherd of God’s flock should aspire. Excellence in conversation. Humble and self-denying. Diligent in many labors. Speaking the whole counsel of God to as many as he could. Honoring Christ and exulting in Him. Living faithfully and courageously in all his ways.

John was truly great in Jesus’ eyes. He should be great in ours.

But as great as John was, according to our Lord, we who inhabit the Kingdom of God, though we be but the least of its citizens, are greater than he. How can this be? Particularly, looking at our lives as compared to John’s, Lord, how can this be?

Only by the Spirit of God.

And only by the grace of God. Let us come to His throne with all confidence that we will find mercy and grace sufficient for all our needs, exceedingly and abundantly more than we have ever dared to ask or think.

Resources for Shepherds

As shepherds, our calling is to lead the Lord’s sheep into His Presence and to the refreshing waters of His Spirit. How do we do that? What tools or resources are available to us? That’s the subject of our book, Fan into Flame, which provides an overview and assessment tools to help you improve your work as a shepherd. Learn more and order your copy by clicking here.

We need a growing vision of Jesus, both for our own walk with Him and to help those we serve see Him as He is, that they may be like Him. Our ReVision study, “We Would See Jesus”, is a good resource for individuals or groups. You can download the four installments in this study by clicking here.

The work of shepherding God’s flock reduces to six key disciplines, as Jesus explained throughout John 10. Our course, “Shepherding God’s Flock”, is ideal for church leaders of all sorts. Watch the preview video by clicking here. Then plan to use this free course for yourself and your church’s leaders.

From the Celtic Revival
It is a measure of the greatness of Colum Cille, the 6th-century founder of the Iona community, to see the way people responded to him:

At one time, when for some months the blessed man remained in the midland district of Ireland, while by God’s will founding the monastery that is called in Irish Dairmag [Durrow], it pleased him to visit the brothers who lived in the monastery of Cloin of Saint Céran [Clonmacnoise]. When they heard of his approach, all those that were in the fields near the monastery came from every side, and joined those that were within it, and with the utmost eagerness accompanying their abbot Alither they passed outside the boundary-wall of the monastery, and with one accord went to meet Saint Columba [Colum Cille], as if he had been an angel of the Lord. On seeing him they bowed their faces to the earth, and he was kissed by them with all reverence, and singing hymns and praises they led him with honour to the church.

 - Adomnán, Life of Columba[1]

It's probably not too likely that people were ever led to break out in singing God’s praise just because we showed up. Which makes Colum all the more important as a Christian forebear.

We’re continuing our study of the life and work of Colum Cille in Crosfigell, which is posted and emailed every Tuesday and Thursday. Add it to your subscriptions to receive insights and meditations from writings of the Celtic Revival (ca. 430-800). You can add Crosfigell to your subscriptions by clicking here.

For another look at some of the leaders of the Celtic Revival, order our book, Lives of Irish Saints, which is available free in PDF by clicking here.

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.

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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. 


[1] Adomnán, p. 25.

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.
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