BY RALPH M. MCGUIRE
“Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of
a ready mind; neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples of the block. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away” (I Peter 5:2-4).
In the introduction of Christ’s ministry, He fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah. He was given the book of the prophets out of which
he read according to the custom of the day. He read of Himself: “The Spirit of the LORD GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound” (Isaiah 61:1). (See Luke 4:18.)A pastor is not a mere herdsman or spokesman, but a shepherd. His highest priority as pastor is to become a shepherd of the sheep, to feed the flock with the sustaining Word of God unto comfort and tender, loving care. Jesus Christ is the chief Shepherd, while the pastor is the under shepherd.
The shepherd does not drive the sheep but entreats them with tender loving care. While on earth, the ministry of Christ was
one of entreatment and love. His voice was one of tenderness in appeal. Among all the duties and responsibilities a pastor has in his calling, nothing takes precedence or priority over his ultimate responsibility to feed the lambs and sheep of his flock. Sermonizing and instruction, void of burden and tender compassionate entreatment, will not meet the needs of the flock. Meekness, humility, and tenderness are vital in pastoral relationships. The lowly spirit of Christ, His love, and His wisdom in communication are paramount.
There are two types of pastors; one is highly successful, while the other is a failure. One excels as an orator and brilliant master of
sermonizing in the pulpit, yet his ministry is unfruitful and becomes as sounding brass or tinkling cymbals. The other is not necessarily a great speaker or sermonizer, but he possesses a burden for souls. He has a heart of compassion for the sheep of his flock and is active in visitation. His burden compels him to the doors of his people as well as to the community that he also serves. His ministry is not only one of exhortation and preaching, but of binding up the broken hearts of the hurting, the sick, and the afflicted. He becomes their comforter in times of trouble, adversity, and heartache while emanating the sweet Spirit of Christ in the doing of his work. This pastor becomes a great success, while the other languishes in failure and defeat.
“Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and the widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world” (James 1:27). Jesus spoke to Peter with great emphasis and repetition concerning the importance of feeding His lambs and sheep. The prophet Isaiah declared God’s desire for His people: “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the Lord’s hand double for all her sins” (Isaiah 40:1-2).
There are times when the people of God’s pasture need consolation, the healing balm of gladness, and the Holy Ghost therapy
of God’s Word. “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword” (Hebrews 4:12). A man of God must have a sensitivity of spirit and yet be as skillful as a swordsman in the use of Scripture. The same word that binds up and heals can also kill. God “hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life” (II Corinthians 3:6). “A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good is it!” (Proverbs 15:23). “He that winneth souls is wise” (Proverbs 11:30). “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him” (James 1:5).
A pastor’s greatest need is wisdom and understanding, for knowledge alone puffs up (I Corinthians 8:1). Let us, as shepherds of
the flock under Jesus, minister with wisdom and love.
THE ABOVE MATERAIL WAS PUBLISHED BY FORWARD, WINTER 2001, PAGE 6.
THIS MATERIAL IS COPYRIGHTED AND MAY BE USED FOR STUDY & RESEARCH PURPOSES ONLY.
Brother McGuire is a senior minister of the UPCI who resides in Marion, Wisconsin.