Pastoral Perspectives

Sheep Without a Shepherd!

How would it be like when there are sheep without a shepherd directing, guiding, leading and watching over them?  Afraid!  Bewildered!  Chaotic!  Defenceless! Disastrous!  Frightened!  Insecure!  Do these sheep realise their need of a shepherd?  Sheep, being sheep, are very stubborn and tend to choose their own way and move in their own direction!  How do we help them see their need of a shepherd?  Is it a case of a shepherd looking for their sheep?  Or is it a case of sheep looking for their shepherd?

There are a couple of verses in the bible which we can learn from concerning “Shepherds and Sheep” metaphor.  Let me share some here with you.

“When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd.  So he began teaching them many things.” Mark 6: 34 NIV

In this verse, we see Jesus having the heart of a shepherd.  Jesus saw them as sheep without a shepherd and he showed compassion for them.  The shepherd’s heart is a heart of compassion.  He sees the need and meets that need without delay.  Jesus saw that the crowd needed His teachings of truth and righteousness.  He readily taught them many things.  Likewise, those of us who are little shepherds should cultivate a heart of compassion for our sheep, making sure that they are appropriately and properly fed with the Word of God in its totality.  Providing good teaching and training are necessary for the sheep.  It is not just classroom teachings but real life teachings, that is, sharing our lives with them.

“Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds; for riches do not endure forever, and a crown is not secure for all generations.”  Proverbs 27: 23, 24 NIV

All of us have a good Shepherd, our Lord Jesus Christ, to lead and guide us.  The question is: “Do we often spend time with Him and listen to His Word as His sheep?” As His sheep, we need to listen to His teachings and to follow His instructions.  In His grace, our God also provides us with little shepherds.  He places little shepherds in our life, for example, mentors, CG leaders, DG leaders, BS leaders, Sunday School teachers, etc. to take care of us, His sheep.  We should appreciate the diligent works of these little shepherds which the Lord has placed in our life.  We should encourage them and prayed for them.  We should give heed to their teachings and their lives.  Why do some sheep do not have little shepherds to guide and help them?  Is it a question of them not able to find one suitable one or rather they do not think that they need one at all?  As we know, sheep can never be left on its own.  It is very vulnerable for sheep to be left alone without care and attention given to them.  Who knows?  Wolves may come and attack them and eat them up.

On the other hand, a question comes to my mind: “Where are the little shepherds?”  I believe that there are many matured Christians around.  As matured Christians who have been living out the Word of God in their lives, they can be little shepherds to those who need their guidance, their help and their inspiration and their instruction.  Are they looking for their sheep which the Lord would like them to come alongside to guide and help these sheep in their Christian life?

We also need to look at Ezekiel 34 to understand the relationship between the shepherds and their sheep.  There is a real need for me to spell out the roles which the little shepherds should be doing.  I would encourage us to take time to read and study Ezekiel 34 in regard to this.  As little shepherds, we should take care of the flock entrusted to our tender care.  We should not dominate over them or exploit them.  We should not take advantage of them.  We should not even discredit them.  We should be firm and gentle and at the same time be gracious towards them.  We need to know and understand them.  We need to know where they are coming from.  We need to know the condition of our sheep.  We need to know what they are facing and what they are struggling with.  We need to exercise love and patience with them.  We need to give careful attention to the flock.  We need to spend time with them.  We need to realize that we ourselves are also sheep in the eyes of our great God.  We ourselves need God’s grace, God’s goodness and God’s guidance as we shepherd the flock.  We need to look to the great Shepherd of the sheep, our Lord Jesus, to help us and to inspire us.  Let us, as little shepherds, never neglect our sheep but to strengthen the weak, to attend to them when they are sick (i.e. physically, emotionally, psychologically, etc.), to bring them back if they have strayed away and to search for them when they have lost their way.  I like the concept of binding up the injured and healing the sick found in Ezekiel 34: 4.  I need to feel how they feel and put myself in their shoes to sense their real needs in order to reach out graciously and lovingly to each one of them.  I need to know when they are hurt and how to minister to them appropriately.  I need to know how to help them patched up with others if there are misunderstandings arose.  I realize that I need the Lord’s strength and wisdom to be able to do all these.  Most of all, I need much prayer too!

“Sheep without a shepherd” – Let us pray that each of us will do our part in contributing to the overall spiritual growth of His church, whether as sheep or as little shepherds.  We are all accountable to the great Shepherd of the sheep!  May the Chief Shepherd find us faithful in discharging our roles as sheep and as little shepherds!  Amen.