Show me Your shepherd heart, Father.
Help me to remember that I am a sheep, both individually,
and as a part of Your flock.
You have promised shepherds after Your own heart
for Your people.
How will we recognize them and not be led astray?
Any shepherd that I call to lead My people will have My heart for the people I love. In the past, Israel had many leaders who failed to care for the flock. They took care of themselves rather than feeding My sheep. They failed to build up the ones that were weak or slower than the rest. They did not heal the sick, care for the injured, go after the strays, or look for the lost. Instead, they bullied and badgered the sheep until they were scattered far and wide. These were My sheep, My people, and they were left driven about by storms and easy prey for the wolves of the world. Jesus reprimanded the temple leaders of His day because they loaded people with impossible burdens while they refused to lift a finger themselves. They made righteous living a burden no one could bear, and kept people dependent on them for right standing with God.
This is not My will for My people. Anyone who would shepherd My people well needs to carry the responsibility with My heart of compassion and love. There will be a desire to build up rather than tear down. Even in correction, there is gentleness and the sense of a father restoring and calling forth the best in his child. A good shepherd never belittles God’s people. He may teach, warn, challenge, and exhort, but he will never set himself above them. He will not demand respect because he sees himself as their servant and fellow traveler in this way of grace. He knows his own weakness and is therefore able to stand at the foot of the cross equal with the wretched, lame, blind, and lost that he serves. He values their commitment to Christ and the unique ways He works in each life instead of seeking to produce imitations of himself or his calling. He recognizes the struggles and celebrates the victories in the lives of My people rather than always demanding more. He leads by example and with integrity. He inspires instead of shames.
These are the under-shepherds who I have called to serve. They will not be perfect, because they are not Me, but these qualities should mark their characters. Seek them out. Trust and learn from them. Appreciate and respect them. Hold them up in prayer. Make sure they stay true to My word; disregard any teaching that does not line up with the full revelation of My truth.
Finally, rest in Me as your perfect Shepherd. There is great benefit in the encouragement and strength of joining together under good leadership in this journey, and that is My intent for the Church. But it is only in Me, the Great Shepherd of your soul, that you will find the home and peace your heart desires.
Ezekiel 34; Matthew 23; Jeremiah 3:15; John 10; Hebrews 13:7-8; Hebrews 13:20-21