Archive for September 21st, 2008

Good Shepherd?

This morning we took a look at Jesus from the perspective of the Good Shepherd.  Jesus made the claim that He was the Good Shepherd.  In that day and age everyone knew a shepherd or was a shepherd.  This reference was known and relevant to the people that He was speaking to.  Here in NH we have farms and animals but the reference is somewhat lost on me.

What does a good shepherd do?  How do you determine if a  shepherd is a good one or a bad one?  What are the characteristics that make a shepherd good?  Sheep are helpless animals.  They are stupid.  They lack the ability to take care of themselves.  A good shepherd is one who would care for the flock.  He would guide his flock into lush fields where they could eat.  A good shepherd would be vigilant in his watch over the flock.  If a wild animal came into sight a good shepherd would act to protect the sheep from the predator.  If one of the sheep went missing from the flock a good shepherd would go out into the wilderness to find the missing sheep and return it to the safety of the flock.

I read all of these qualities and I play the comparison game.  Am I a good shepherd?  As a pastor that is another job title that I could have.  Pastor and shepherd are synonymous.  I struggle with this.  I know that there is much work that the Lord still has need to do in my life.

I get frustrated by people who do the things that they know they should not and yet they still do them.  I find myself annoyed by those who ask for advice and then do the exact opposite of what I have offered up to them.  I struggle with patience in dealing with those who end up lost and in trouble.  In some cases when trouble comes I take on an attitude that “you made your bed, now lay in it.”

Just this past week in while traveling in New York I was with a large group of pastors from around the nation and we were given the treat of attending a New York Yankees game.  The real treat came in witnessing the Yankees lose but that is not the point I am making here.  After the game came to an end we shuffled back to the buses that brought our group of 150 or so pastors to the game.  As we all boarded the buses we found that one of the pastors had gotten disoriented on his way back to the bus and had gotten lost.  He wasn’t answering his cell phone and had no idea of how to get back to where we were all waiting for him.  After about an hour of waiting for him to find his way back to us I was ready to say, “Good luck!” and start the bus myself.  There were others who felt the same way.  Thankfully there were some who were leading our excursion to the Bronx that would “leave no one behind.”  I can remember Twittering the thought that if I was Jesus the missing sheep would have been dinner.  

I need help.  I understand that no one is further from perfection than myself and yet I still grow weary some days in dealing with other people problems.  I gain a feeling of satisfaction when I am able to help others and yet in the blink of an eye I can resist answering the phone for fear of having to deal with “another issue”.  I know that I am not alone in feeling this way and I know that it isn’t right that I feel this way.  I cling to the Good Shepherd in dealing with my own issues.  I desire to be molded by His example as I strive to be a good shepherd myself.  I am ever thankful that “your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”

As I am protected, cared for, guided, and found in my depravity; I pray that I can do the same for those I have been called to do the same for.  I know that the example that the Good Shepherd sets for me is one that I can learn from.  I know that the impact the Good Shepherd has had on my life personally is one that leads me to want to do the same for others.  I just pray that I can…