“The Minister As Shepherd”

April 13, 2009

Reading this book by Charles Jefferson has been so refreshing to my soul and encouraging to my ministry.  It is almost as if Jefferson labored to find the right words to use as to resonate with the feelings of a minister.  After reading a paragraph, I almost always sigh the deepest amen.  I copy here one of the most truthfully written paragraphs (pp. 136-137), divided into sections for your reading ease, that my heart agrees with:

The grace of humility is watered and unfolded by the shepherd’s toil … The crowds do not applaud [the shepherd, in contrast to the preacher]…

The shepherd, working with individuals, faces failure again and again.  As a guide he is rejected; his counsel is despised.  As a physician he is baffled; the diseases of the soul will not yield.  As a savior he is defeated; he cannot bring back a sheep that is lost.  There is always a joy in his heart over what he achieves, but there is also always a heaviness because of what he fails to do.  “Sorrowing, yet always rejoicing”–this is a fit description of a shepherd’s life … He knows the power of sin and realizes that there is no help for the world this side of God.  His experience in fighting evil face to face brings him into the dust.

Moreover, his work is never done … After he has done a thousand things, he can think of a thousand other things still to do.  After he has done his best, he feels like confessing himself an unprofitable servant.  The shepherd’s work is never done.