* Neil Thielke: Shepherding Role of Every Christian

Neil Thielke

by Neil Thielke, 2006

Pastors are shepherds of God’s sheep, having the care for their spiritual teaching and ministry, which often includes helping provide physical as well as spiritual needs.  Pastors counsel as well as teach, and they are a resource for their people to connect with others in the church as well as with their families, neighbors, employers, and community.

The following list of the Shepherd’s jobs is taken from the small book The Minister as Shepherd by Charles Jefferson.

ISRAEL WAS A NATION OF SHEPHERDS.

Genesis 46:31-47:6   Then Joseph said to his brothers and to his father’s household, “I will go up and speak to Pharaoh and will say to him, ‘My brothers and my father’s household, who were living in the land of Canaan, have come to me. The men are shepherds; they tend livestock, and they have brought along their flocks and herds and everything they own.’  When Pharaoh calls you in and asks, ‘What is your occupation?’ you should answer, ‘Your servants have tended livestock from our boyhood on, just as our fathers did.’ Then you will be allowed to settle in the region of Goshen, for all shepherds are detestable to the Egyptians.”

Joseph went and told Pharaoh, “My father and brothers, with their flocks and herds and everything they own, have come from the land of Canaan and are now in Goshen.”  He chose five of his brothers and presented them before Pharaoh.

Pharaoh asked the brothers, “What is your occupation?”

“Your servants are shepherds,” they replied to Pharaoh, “just as our fathers were.” They also said to him, “We have come to live here awhile, because the famine is severe in Canaan and your servants’ flocks have no pasture. So now, please let your servants settle in Goshen.”

Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Your father and your brothers have come to you, and the land of Egypt is before you; settle your father and your brothers in the best part of the land. Let them live in Goshen. And if you know of any among them with special ability, put them in charge of my own livestock.”

AND… WOMEN WERE SHEPHERDS TOO!
  • Rachel:

    Genesis 29:9-10  While he was still talking with them, Rachel came with her father’s sheep, for she was a shepherdess. When Jacob saw Rachel daughter of Laban, his mother’s brother, and Laban’s sheep, he went over and rolled the stone away from the mouth of the well and watered his uncle’s sheep.

  • Zipporah:

    Exodus 2:15-21  When Pharaoh heard of this, he tried to kill Moses, but Moses fled from Pharaoh and went to live in Midian, where he sat down by a well. Now a priest of Midian had seven daughters, and they came to draw water and fill the troughs to water their father’s flock. Some shepherds came along and drove them away, but Moses got up and came to their rescue and watered their flock.When the girls returned to Reuel their father, he asked them, “Why have you returned so early today?”

    They answered, “An Egyptian rescued us from the shepherds. He even drew water for us and watered the flock.”

    “And where is he?” he asked his daughters. “Why did you leave him? Invite him to have something to eat.” Moses agreed to stay with the man, who gave his daughter Zipporah to Moses in marriage.

KING DAVID, A FORE-RUNNER OF JESUS, WAS A SHEPHERD: 

1 Samuel 16:11-12 So he asked Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?”

“There is still the youngest,” Jesse answered, “but he is tending the sheep.”
Samuel said, “Send for him; we will not sit down until he arrives.”

So he sent and had him brought in. He was ruddy, with a fine appearance and handsome features.

Then the LORD said, “Rise and anoint him; he is the one.”

2 Samuel 5:2  In the past, while Saul was king over us, you were the one who led Israel on their military campaigns. And the LORD said to you, ‘You will shepherd my people Israel, and you will become their ruler.’ ”

Psalm 78:71-72  from tending the sheep he brought him to be the shepherd of his people Jacob, of Israel his inheritance.

And David shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skillful hands he led them.

JESUS – OUR CHIEF SHEPHERD – THE GREATEST SHEPHERD EVER
  • Prophetic Word about Jesus from Micah 5:2 quoted by teachers of law to Herod:

 Matthew 2:6  ” ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.’ “

  • Jesus called himself the good shepherd twice in John 10:

 John 10:11  “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

John 10:14  “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me.

  • The writer of Hebrews called Jesus the great Shepherd:

Hebrews 13:20-21 May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

 

  • Peter called Jesus our Shepherd and Overseer:

1 Peter 2:25 For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

SEVEN ROLES OF A SHEPHERD OF HUMAN SHEEP:

You are a shepherd of the people you are related to. Every line of relationship gives you access to shepherd people: family, fellow workers, neighbors– regardless of whether they call you shepherd or not. Remember, Pharaoh had the Israelites shepherd his flocks too!

1 Peter 5:1-2  To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ’s sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve;

1 Peter 5:4  And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.

I.  Watchman — one of the prophetic functions in our churches:

Mark 13:37 Jesus said, “What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’ 

Amos 1:1  The words of Amos, one of the shepherds of Tekoa—what he saw concerning Israel two years before the earthquake, when Uzziah was king of Judah and Jeroboam son of Jehoash was king of Israel.

Acts 20:28  Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.

9 Things we are commanded to watch for by Jesus 

1.  False Prophets (a false prophet is one who gathers sheep after anyone except Jesus)

Matthew 7:15-20 Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will know them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

2.  Deception

Matthew 24:4  Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.

3.  Complacency/Lethargy

Matthew 24:42-44  “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.

4.  Pray to overcome temptation in difficult situations

Matthew 26:36-38 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.”

He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”

5.  Yeast of Pharisees and Herod

Mark 8:15  “Be careful,” Jesus warned them. “Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod.”

6.  Teachers of the law

Mark 12:38-40  As he taught, Jesus said, “Watch out for the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and be greeted in the marketplaces, and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. Such men will be punished most severely.”

7.  Greed

Luke 12:13-15  Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”

Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”

8.  Sin

Luke 17:1-4 Jesus said to his disciples: “Things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through whom they come. It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. So watch yourselves.“If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.”

9.  End time events

Luke 21:36 “Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.

II. Guard – Protecting from Harm Those Entrusted to Us

1 Samuel 17:40 Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine.Killing the lion and the bear and prepared David for killing Goliath. Figuratively speaking, the lion and bear are the attackers of our immediate flock, our family. How often do we have in our minds a great ambition to guard a large flock, but our primary flock, our family, suffers. Dating our wives and spending time with our children are forms of guarding sheep in our family.

III. Guide – Two Principle Ways of Guiding:

     A.  Our words provide direction

Titus 2:7  In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.

      B.  Our lives are role models

John 13:12-17  When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

1 Peter 5:1-4  To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ’s sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.

IV.  Physician – Jesus sent his disciples out to heal the sick

Luke 10:8-9  “When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is set before you. Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God is near you.’

V. Search for the Lost – Two kinds of lost

       A. Those who have never believed in Jesus and are eternally lost.

Romans 10:14-15  How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!

      B.  The saved who have lost their direction

Matthew 18:12 “What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off?

VI. Feeder of the Sheep – Two kinds of food:

  A.  Spiritual Food

John 21:15  When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”

B.  Physical Food

Matthew 14:16  Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”

VII.  Love the Sheep

John 13:34  “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.

1 Peter 1:22  Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart.

1 John 4:11  Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN TO ME TODAY?
  • Is there anyone who is lost?
  • Is there anyone who needs healing?
  • Who is God asking me to reach out and touch this week?
  • Is there anyone I know who is “behind” in being cared for, being touched?
  • How can I make myself available to help in shepherding at our church?
  • Am I committed to the flock(s) Jesus has given me?

Unless otherwise noted, all scriptures are taken from the Holy Bible,
New International Version®, NIV®.
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc.™
Used by permission of Zondervan.
All rights reserved worldwide.
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