Shepherding God’s Flock (25)
For we have great joy and consolation in your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed by you, brother. Philemon 1.7
The single greatest challenge to a shepherd is to connect the people he serves with Jesus. That is, to draw them into fellowship with God and Christ, the same fellowship which he, the shepherd, enjoys and which he knows to be the true Source and Fount of refreshment for their soul.
Edwards put it this way: “Ministers [and shepherds] are set in the church of God to be the instruments of this comfort and refreshment to the souls of men, to be the instruments of leading souls to the God of all consolation, and fountain of their happiness: they are sent as Christ was, and as co-workers with him, to preach good tidings to the meek, to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound, and to comfort all that mourn…” (The True Excellency of a Gospel Minister).
The goal of preaching, teaching, counseling, leadership development, discipleship training, and all other forms and duties of the work of shepherding is to connect people with Jesus, to teach them how to drink from this clear, true Fount, and to find rest and refreshment for their souls in the Presence of Immanuel.
Only the Spirit gives life. Only Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. Only the Father can keep and renew us as we so daily and desperately need. Teach the people you serve to find soul refreshment in the Lord, and see how the joy and consolation and love of Jesus increase among the members of your flock.
When preaching lifts and enlarges the soul and leads people into the Presence of the Lord of glory, He knows how to take that word and apply it for the refreshment of every thirsty soul.
Resources for Shepherds
We encourage you to visit the Resources for Shepherds page at our website. There you will find regular encouragement in your walk with and work for the Lord—updates on books, important articles, and insights from the Word of God. A review and link to Tom Howard’s article on sacramental home life can help you bring more disciple-making into the homes of those you serve. A brief meditation on the overfilled fishing net of John 21 might give you food to feed the weary and worn-out servants in your church.
If our witness is going to be effective, we need to make sure we understand the times and know just how we ought to proclaim the Good News. Our ReVision study, “Let God Be True”, can help you and your leaders enjoy more confidence and consistency in proclaiming Christ and His Kingdom. Download all the installments in this free 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
Colum Cille left a powerful legacy for the generations that followed him on Iona, and even for us who look to him and other saints for encouragement and hope:
And this great favour also was conferred by God on that man of blessed memory, that, although he lived in this small and remote island of the Britannic ocean, he merited that his name should not only be illustriously renowned throughout our Ireland, and throughout Britain, the greatest of all the islands of the whole world; but that it should reach even as far as three-cornered Spain, and Gaul, and Italy situated beyond the Pennine Alps; also the Roman city itself, which is chief of all cities. So great and high honour and fame is known to have been bestowed upon that saint, among the other gifts of divine granting, by God, who loves those that love him, and, more and more glorifying those that magnify him with savoury praises, elevates them with boundless honours. And he is blessed through the ages. Amen.
- Adomnán, Life of Columba
Colum’s legacy continues to this day on Iona and in a great many other places. It is a legacy of trusting the Lord and seeking by every means to serve and glorify Him.
We’re all leaving a legacy of some sort. The more we look to Jesus, walk in His Spirit, and follow His Word in all we do, the more we can expect our legacy to be one that will refresh the souls of many.
Tomorrow, in our twice-weekly teaching letter, Crosfigell, we begin a devotional study of the life and ministry of Patrick. From half-hearted believer to kidnapped slave to saint and disciple-maker, we’ll hear Patrick in his own words and consider the implications of his work for own discipleship. You can add Crosfigell to your subscriptions by clicking here.
Check out the prayer by Columbanus, skillfully set by our master webmaster, Travis McSherley, by clicking here.
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.
 Adomnán, pp. 233, 235.