Monday, July 27, 2015

forceful shepherds

The weak you have not strengthened, the sick you have not healed, the injured you have not bound up, the strayed you have not brought back, the lost you have not sought, and with force and harshness you have ruled them.
Ezekiel 34:4

This was God's evaluation of the leaders of Israel. He had made them shepherds of His flock. But they did not serve as gentle, caring shepherds. They ran roughshod over the flock, concerned only with their own selfish gain, abusing those under their care with a harsh and forceful rule. They did not care for or lead God's people.

God's indictment of them gives insight into what He expects of those who lead His people. He expects shepherds to strengthen the weak. Leaders must care enough to help those under them gain skill and strength. Leaders must nourish people to healthiness. Shepherd leaders want to see those who need healing receive it. They care for those who aren't quite well yet, patiently tending to equipping them to health.

Shepherds tend the injured. They counsel and care for the wounded and hurting so that healing and strength might return to the entire flock. Leaders go after wanderers. They lovingly restore the lost sheep back to the fold. We don't let the flock just dwindle away one by one. It is, after all, the flock of God to Whom we must give account!

All these tender and intimate leadership practices go after the needs of individuals. And shepherds must know the flock well enough to spot the weak, sick, injured, and missing people. That requires time, diligence, high concern, and most importantly, cultivation of personal relationships. To replace that high standard with selfishness, harshness, or forcefulness is to invite God's judgment on the shepherd.

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