Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.Acts 20:28 NKJV
This may seem strange to those who know me. I am one to espouse getting over ourselves and getting on with the business we’re called to. Though this may seem a bit contradictory, I don’t think it is. Thursday morning, the Lord woke me up at 3:30 AM with the above scripture. Loud and clear, I heard the phrase, “Shepherd the flock of God.” As I meditated on the verse, I started to see a few thoughts that I want to share.
First, we are truly in uncharted waters as a nation. Between the pandemic and the social upheaval, many people are living in fear or anger or despair. My hard-wired response is to say, “Suck it up buttercup and let’s reach this world while they’re ripe!” I think the Holy Spirit was telling me to take a slightly different approach. We can’t give what we don’t have. Notice Paul’s emphasis:
- “Take heed to yourselves.” I hear many reports of pastors and leaders who are struggling. The head-spinning pace of change and adaptation has thrown many of us out of sync. Here’s the deal: If the pastor can’t cope, neither can the sheep. Pastor, take care of yourself. Rest, pray, fellowship with others, get yourself in condition to give. God loves you, just because you’re you. Not because you do perfect pastor stuff. It’s His church, not yours. Let Him care for you so you can care for it. You can’t give away what you don’t have.
- “and to all the flock.” Those people who are not showing up, not giving, not responding to calls to serve, have been purchased by the blood of the Lamb. They are precious, valuable, and broken. They need to be fed and nurtured through their fear and doubt. When sheep (or people) feel threatened they either fight, run, or freeze. Viral diseases, unemployment, and violence in the streets seem threatening. The threat isn’t going away. We have to move through our reactions to move into God’s response. Together. We sheep need the same stuff as the shepherd. We can’t give what we don’t have.
So here’s the assignment for today: Let’s go to church. Let’s get ourselves healed up and then help someone else to do the same. If you’re a healthy, happy sheep, then you can do two things. First, be a blessing to your pastors. They are dealing with things you can’t imagine. Take a little load off them. Second, look around for the ones who aren’t there. They ran. Listen for the ones who are grumbling and griping. They’re ready to fight Don’t ignore the ones who look like deer-eyes in the headlights. They’re frozen. Reach out. Be a friend. We’re going to have to get through this thing together. The world is waiting, but we can’t give what we don’t have.