Psalm 2:3a He restores my soul.
Sheep need shepherds to protect them from predators but also to ensure safe and secure boundaries that will keep the sheep in and the predators at bay. Sheep can still get out of the pen and they will try. Self-destruction results from going beyond the parameters set to protect the individual and the entire flock.
C. S. Lewis truly notes in an essay titled “The Weight of Glory”, “There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals, which we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit….your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses.”
The weight of responsibility for a shepherd is when they realize the reality that they work among immortals. People live forever, in one place or the other. Viewing your co-workers and others through the lens of immortality creates urgency in our ministry. Such a view helps to prioritize daily life. Creating a workplace that nourishes both the material and spiritual needs of your sheep will bring eternal rewards, if not temporal ones.
Failure is no fun. It is humiliating and debilitating for all of us in some way or form. Shepherds see failure as an opportunity to change direction, position or focus. Those who fail can be restored when they see that one door has closed and there are new ones to discover how to open. Failure is not the end. Shepherds ensure that failure is not fatal.
Shepherds live with the ability to dispense mercy and compassion. Mercy is not punishing someone when the rules demand it. Compassion means providing for someone when justice demands that they not receive anything. Shepherds do this because they have received both mercy and compassion from God through Jesus Christ.