The charge from the post-resurrection Jesus to Peter was, “If you love me, feed my sheep.” And later Peter wrote to other church elders, “shepherd the flock of God that is among you.” The metaphor had stuck with Peter.
But it seems the temptation is to set an agenda for the flock instead of feeding them.
Speaking as a mother I can relate to the tiresomeness and repetitiveness of basic caregiving. No matter how much foresight and good judgment and talent you bring to the job, you can never feed the family once and for all. The minute you get ahead in one area, a crisis breaks out in another area. I understand how this failure to be able to look back and point to achievements and discernable progress eats into one’s sense of significance.
The thing that saves you as a mother is recognizing the job — as it is, not as we might wish it was — is a noble calling — and that at the end of the day it’s not achievements that matter, but love shown. (Also chocolate and naps help.)
So if Jesus himself is the one that says to pastors, “feed my sheep,” then maybe such service IS more than the hamster wheel it surely must feel like at times.
Westminster Seminary prof Michael Horton and his reformation theology friends make some great points about this on this week’s edition of The White Horse Inn, using one of their favorite whipping boys as a foil. Mega-Churches Respond to the “Reveal” Study
(Caveat: I like The White Horse Inn, but their polemics make me uncomfortable at times.)