“Know that the Lord, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.” Psalm 100:3
“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.” John 10:14-15
“. . . shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.” 1 Peter 5:2-3
Throughout God’s Word, shepherds and sheep are used to illustrate the relationship between God and His people. God is our shepherd, we are his sheep. Jesus, the good shepherd, came down from heaven to die on the cross for the life of the sheep (us!). David, paralleling Christ in many ways, went back to the fields to take care of his flock after being anointed the next king of Israel.
We are also called to be shepherds. I love the guidance given in 1 Peter 5:2-3. When I first read this Scripture, I slowed down and paid attention to what the apostle Peter said. God calls us to be shepherds to His flock among us. Who constitutes this flock? Everyone. God created us all in His image. Your flock could include family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, other moms, Christians, non-Christians, and even acquaintances or strangers!
I read once every single person we encounter each day is placed there by God. Every. Single. Person. Whether you speak, or just nod hello. Where you see them, or don’t. They all are put on our path by God. Not one soul is an “oops” or an afterthought. They are all people God is calling you, as a unique piece in the puzzle of His kingdom, to impact or be impacted by.
Depending on the type of day you are having, this may be encouraging or terrifying. As an introvert, small talk with strangers is terrifying to me. I generally avoid making eye contact with people when I’m out and about, preferring to keep the focus on 1, 2, or 3 of my kids. So many days, I don’t live up to my calling to be a shepherd among the flock God has placed around me.
How are we to be shepherds to our flock? Scripture tells us willingly, eagerly, exercising oversight, and setting an example. It’s not hard to be a shepherd, but it does take intent. As Christians, we have so much hope and joy because we have been given a beautiful gift of eternal life. This is Good News! We should be willing and eager to be representatives of Christ, shining our light so that others see Christ in us. You never know who may be paying attention to the way you live your life, seeking to know your secret. For me, I had a co-worker who consistently acted as a shepherd of God. I always saw joy in her, no matter the situation, and wanted a relationship with Christ like hers.
Being shepherds also means we need to watch ourselves. This calling isn’t one to go to our heads, or to lean on as a right to be judgmental toward others. We need to exercise oversight. Be careful with our words and actions toward others. And we need to be examples of Christ, all the time. It’s hard. I know I’ve been the mom at the store that others are staring at…and not in a good way. I lose my patience, I struggle with judgmental thoughts, I have engaged in gossiping. I am human. I am a sinner. I have bad days and I have good days. I have ups and downs. This walk with Christ is a beautiful, wonderful walk but it is not free of hardships. It is not a free pass to an easy life.
Starting today, I will try to live my life on purpose. I will make an effort to pay attention to each and every person on my path, seeking a way to model Christ to them and looking for ways that God seeks to use them in my life. I challenge you to do the same. I invite you to join me in living out our call to be shepherds among our flock.
Heavenly Father, Thank You for Your timeless Word. Equip me to be a shepherd. Open my eyes to those around me. Give me discernment to see who You are calling me to impact, and to see those You are using to impact me. Help me to be an example of others. In Jesus’ name, Amen.