Like A Shepherd

There is a rift in our world. A rift caused by mandates, politics, social justice issues, divisiveness and ideologies. We are being pulled apart by evil forces. Oh Lord, I ask that you heal the rift. Bring us together to have meaningful conversations. Help us, regardless of our stand on issues, to be open to hearing another viewpoint. But always, Lord, always point us back to you. Point us back to the need for salvation and forgiveness of sins. Point us to the babe in the manager who was born so we could be delivered from eternal condemnation.

We are in a spiritual battle, as never before in our lifetime. Oh. There has always been trouble. People have always disagreed with each other. Political parties have tried for centuries to destroy the opposition. Sports teams have always had rivalries. Wars break out and will continue to do so. Animosity is forever a part of history. But this is different. This battle is spiritual. At its core, evil forces are moving. Wreaking havoc. And we must be on guard. Because this battle is for our soul. And we need the babe born in a stable. Born to be the Savior of the world to fight this battle for us. We need Him now more than ever.

We need this Savior to shepherd us in the path of life. As we face every decision, temptation and trial down the winding road, we need a Savior. And so we ask. Savior, like a shepherd lead us.

Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. Hebrews 13:20-21

Savior, like a shepherd lead us, much we need Thy tender care. In thy pleasant pastures feed us, for our use Thy folds prepare. Oh. Heavenly Father. How we need your tender care. Not just in this season, but in every season of life. Your tender care and mercies carry us through the disappointments, hurts and trials of life. Only you can lead us in the path we should go. For we know that those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. We ask that you prepare your folds with plenty, so we can be well fed in your pleasant pastures. We hunger for your presence and for your sustaining grace.

We are Thine, Thou dost befriend us, be the Guardian of our way. Keep Thy flock, from sin defend us, seek us when we go astray. Even when we stray, Father, we pray that you will be our friend. Be the guardian of our way. Seek us out when we stray from your will and from your presence. As our friend, we ask for your strong defense when we can no longer defend ourselves. When we are at the end of our rope, pull us back into the safety of your loving arms.

Thou has promised to receive us, poor and sinful though we be. Thou has mercy to relieve us, grace to cleanse and power to free. Your mercy is new every morning, Father. Your Word says so. We ask that you extend your mercy to our broken, poor and sinful selves. Cleanse us from all our sins and free us from the power of sin. Make us white as snow, with the mercy you provide for today. We ask that you break the chains that bind us. Shower us with grace in our moments of failure.

Early let us seek Thy favor, early let us do thy will. Blessed Lord and only Savior, with Thy love our bosoms fill. Help us, Father, to seek you early and often. Nudge us and make us aware of your love. Fill us with your presence and guide us to do the works that you have called us to do. Your will is the only will we must follow. For you will not lead us astray.

Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus. Thou hast loved us, love us still. We know, Father, that nothing can remove us from your love. And for that we give you thanks. We don’t deserve your love. But oh, how we need it. We are broken and battered by sin. The scars of our faults and failures are on full display for you to see. Yet you love us still. Your love is everlasting. For eternity. And we are eternally grateful.

For Thine is the power and the glory forever. Amen.

The Called

They have been asked to give their lives to serve God. They have answered the call. They will lead others to follow Christ. They will preach sermons. They will lead board meetings. They will pray with those in need. They will counsel people at their lowest moments. They will serve others in ways no one knows.

They work many hours that no one sees. They are on call at all hours of the day and night. They conduct funerals and officiate at weddings. They are a part of the saddest and happiest moments of others’ lives.

Their life and that of their family is on full display to be approved or criticized, as others see fit. They’re expected to have perfect marriages and well-behaved children. It’s assumed that they handle their personal lives and finances without flaw.

They are unlicensed counselors who hear the most private life situations for a family or marriage in crisis. Everything they hear in counseling sessions must be kept private. They are expected to keep all conversations confidential.

They are human. They make mistakes. They do not live perfect lives. And when their lives are falling apart. When their marriage is hanging by a thread. When their child is the one who’s gone astray. Who do they call? Who do they trust to keep their messy lives out of the news? Who do they call in the middle of the night when hope seems lost?

When they have a moment of panic.  When they have an unconfessed sin.  When they have a hidden addiction.  When they have a raw diagnosis.  When they need wise counsel. Who do they have on speed dial?  Who can they trust with their darkest moments?  

Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you. Hebrews 13:17

We expect them to know the Bible inside and out. Can they quote just the right Scripture when we need it? Can they give the most godly advice at the right time? If their sermon doesn’t hold your attention or if it rubs you the wrong way, do you stop attending church? Do you demand they run the church your way or else?

We must hope and pray that they are following God’s leading. We must trust that their relationship with God is their top priority. Above all else, they must lead the church as God leads them. Sure. They’re human. They mess up. Unless there’s evidence of wrongdoing on their part, we must trust that they are allowing God to guide them.

The thing is. We’re all called. We’re all human. But we hold them to a higher standard. They’re human, too. They make mistakes. They mess up. They’re working on their salvation one day at a time. Just like everyone else. 

Some are called to be shepherds. Some are administrators. Some are strategic thinkers and planners. Some are prayer warriors. Others are eloquent speakers. Still others offer solid teaching. And some offer wise counsel. But all are called. All are gifted. All are flawed.

What if we spent time praying for them each day. What if we spent time getting to know them. Getting to know their heart as they follow God. Getting to know their strengths and weaknesses. What if we truly trusted them to lead the church as God is leading them. What if we trusted them?

Let’s show them grace.  and trust.  and offer forgiveness.  Let’s hold them accountable.  But let’s let them lead. God will hold them accountable for their lives and their leadership. Let’s trust God.