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WE the CHURCH - The Shepherds

Posted by Shannon Colwin on

You ever have someone ask, “How are you?” and you knew they meant it?

It was as if the question wasn’t just a question but also a statement, saying, “You matter to me. I care about you. I see you. I want to know how you’re doing, because I’m with you. And even more than that, you felt safe in telling them.

Ever had that?

You may have been in the presence of someone the Bible describes as a shepherd.

This past Sunday was the fifth and final week in our WE, the CHURCH series, looking at how God designed us to have a diverse unity as His body. Specifically, we’re looking as the five foundational “gifts” He gave us so that we could be a healthy body. There are apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds, and teachers among us (Ephesians 4:11).

If you want to go back and listen to any of these messages, you can find them on the website or podcast.

This week was all about the shepherds among us.

Let’s give it some quick definition: the shepherd is the “one nurtures God’s people.” The shepherd wants people to be cared for AND care for others.

God identifies Himself as our Shepherd (Ezekiel 34:11-15), as One who seeks out, rescues, feeds, and brings peace to His flock. The same kind of language is used by Jesus (Luke 19:10) and of Jesus (John 3:17; 1 Timothy 1:15). And then Jesus specifically identifies himself as our Good Shepherd (John 10:11-30). Over and over we see Jesus caring for people, bringing healing, SEEING people who had been lost in the crowds.

And then he passes the shepherding baton to us with directions to feed and nurture one another (John 21:15-17).

Are you wired this way?

Shepherds are often score high in empathy - the ability to feel what someone else is feeling. And so they’re often easy to talk to. They feel safe to others.

Shepherds have a healing voice. They’re often patient.

They deeply desire for people to know the peace and healing of God.

Just as sheep herders guide sheep, shepherds are guides, helping people to walk in the way of life. Shepherds go after strays, to bring them back into community.

And they are disheartened when people leave.

People matter the shepherds.

Is this you? Is there room for you to grow here?

If so, here are four specific action points to cultivate the shepherd in you.

  1. Get to know people’s names and stories. Some people seem to have an uncanny ability to remember people’s names. The rest of us will need to be intentional about remembering. Try to use people’s names when you’re talking with them. Write their names down to help you remember. And if you forget, don’t be embarrassed to ask again. This little thing is one simple way to show people you care about them.
  2. Develop good boundaries. Immature shepherds become codependents. Our job is to care and guide and then let people decide how they will respond.It’s helpful to be reminded that people are ultimately God’s people. He is the ultimate Shepherd, and we serve as under-shepherds, if you will.
  3. Don’t despise the way God made you. Don’t sell yourself short. Often people wired as shepherds can look down upon themselves, see there strengths as “lame,” and can wish that they were wired differently. This is wrong thinking. If you’re wired as a shepherd, it reflects the very character and nature of God! Thank God that He places shepherds among us! We need people who will care!
  4. Don’t forget your Shepherd. Keep coming back to the One Who cares for you. Follow in His way. Don’t think of yourself as only a helper. You’ll get a Jesus-complex. Keep returning to Jesus and walk with Him.

All of us are called as disciples to care for and nurture one another.

It’s going to come a lot more naturally for some of us than others.

If you care deeply for others, if you are empathetic and can feel what others are feeling, if people have told you that they feel safe talking to you, if you are patient with others who are struggling, if you love helping people know the peace and healing God offers, if you love to encourage and help others, you may be wired as a shepherd.

Here are some questions to ask:

  • How has God shown that He cares for me?
  • Am I paying attention to the needs of others?
  • Who in my life needs care, comfort, or encouragement?
  • Am I following my Shepherd Jesus as I shepherd others?

To the shepherds among us, we need you.

I pray we grow in maturity, humility, and compassion so that we as a church can grow in caring for one another.

Will the shepherds among us please rise?!

With you,

Pastor Shannon


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