I just came back from lunch with George who is struggling in his young marriage. If he and his wife are to survive their union they will need a great deal of help right away. During lunch, George mentioned the fact that the leadership of his church wanted him to serve on the executive committee.
“George,” I explored, “Before asking you to serve, did they inquire about the health of your marriage, or about how you are doing spiritually?”
“Are they aware of the struggles you two are going through?”
“No. I think they assume that if we show up at certain functions, we are doing fine. They never ask.”
“Did they ask you if serving on the executive committee would strengthen or weaken your marriage?”
In reflecting back on that conversation, I was reminded of God’s stinging indictment of Israel’s shepherds, who were self-serving, indifferent to the flock’s needs, and harsh in their leadership style:
“…Woe to the shepherds of Israel who only take care of themselves!…You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally.” (Ezek. 34:2b,4)
Just yesterday a pastor confided in me of the pressure he felt to build a large congregation, even at the expense of his flock, in order to guarantee his acceptance into the elite fraternity of “successful” pastors.
By way of contrast, I was reminded of Jacob’s tender concern for the most vulnerable of his flock,
“…The children are tender and…I must care for the ewes and cows that are nursing their young. If they are driven hard just one day, all the animals will die…I [will] move along slowly at the pace of the droves before me and that of the children…” (Gen. 33:13b-14)
QUESTION: In shepherding the flock, whose primary needs are being met? The shepherd’s? Or the sheep? Who is serving whom, anyway?
My prayer is that you are having a great week!