Good Shepherd

Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away—and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again (John 10:11-18)

I’m afraid there are many ministers that are only in the ministry for personal gain. They really don’t care enough for the people under their care. The motive is either profit, power, notoriety or all three.

Hirelings preach whatever they think will make an impact on the hearers, anything that will assist them in their agenda, which is not caring for the people under their care. Jesus calls them wolves in sheep’s clothing. Their interest is primarily personal, and if it’s going to hinder them too much, they decide to go away and continue their fleecing in some other place.

This is a difficult sermon to preach, but it is all to true. Not everyone that is more concerned about their career than the people they work with. But, I am afraid that seminaries and places of training sometimes fall short, because they do not teach the concept of shepherding the sheep. They are more interested in taking care of the leader, and that’s understandable I guess to a degree.

Practicing pastoral leadership is not an easy task. Sometimes it’s nice, but many times it’s just down right hard work, and not a whole lot of fun. That’s why I like being in a denomination with oversight. Deacons and priests have oversight and answer to the leadership of the Diocesan Bishop, who answers to the Presiding Bishop and the Council of Bishops.

If I began preaching misinformation and working to build my own financial or powerful kingdom, I know I would have bishops and diocesan leadership committees correcting me and disciplining me for being guilty of being a hireling and not a shepherd.

I do try to practice self-care, to take my Mondays off, to practice personal devotions and family time. But, regardless of what some seminary leaders teach, the priesthood, (office of a shepherd) is not a 9 to 5 job. On my days off, if there is an emergency or dire situation, I will take your call. Usually, I will let you leave a message, and then determine if I can contact you back on Tuesday instead of Monday.

I don’t claim to be a great pastor, but I do try to do my best, and I know I can always do better than I a doing. But, I do take my role as pastor of this church very seriously, and you are all in my thoughts and prayers. And, many of you know that there have been times when I have intervened with people that have tried to come into this church and cause fear and confusion. I take my position as the watchman on the wall very seriously.

I never turn my phone off, unless I am on vacation and there is someone that is assigned that is available for emergencies. But, I do ask you to value my days off, and if it can wait until morning I appreciate it, but even if it’s 3 AM, I am not a hireling. I am on duty 24/7.

I am not the only one that needs to follow the example of Jesus, our Good shepherd. We are all called to care for one another. It just so happens, I make my living doing this, but I could not do it without the help of so many leaders in this church that also care for the needs of others.  The teaching from First John is applicable to all of us, clergy and laity alike”

We know love by this that he laid down his life for us– and we ought to lay down our lives for one another. How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help? Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action. (1 John 3:16-24)

May we all follow the direction of our Good Shepherd and care for one another. Even when it’s an inconvenience in our schedules. Amen?