Last night, I stood watch over my family while a heavy storm blew in. It knocked out our power, and we slept in the hallway, as it was the innermost room of the house. The boys were a little frightened, but put a good face on it, I lit some candles, and Michaelene read the boys a devotional book, while I kept watch on the weather radar and reports. We turned it in to an adventure where we focused on God. After a time, the storm blew out, and we sent the boys to bed. When things had calmed, some, I went to see if any of my friends and neighbors needed help: all were asleep, and I saw some downed limbs, but no real damage. Long after everyone else had gone to sleep, I was awake, listening for any signs of danger for my family. Some time later, the power came back on (thank you to all the line men who worked to get it up and running!). This is my first ministry, and I’m called to be a shepherd to my family, even though I still am figuring it all out.
Last week was a month in the Christian community called “Minister’s Appreciation Month,” and I want to make sure I am appreciating the elders and preachers in my life. I can fully understand the weight this office carries. Most of what I own is past its prime, I cut my own hair so that my children can get theirs done, many of my shirts are old and faded (I do without so my wife and kids may have), and many of my shorts and pants have holes and patches. I do not say this to boast in my humility, but so show that I have never been a man of means while in ministry, and I keep watch over the flock along side some great men of God.
We keep watch over the flock God has entrusted to us. The men I serve with take no salary (I offered to get a job to support the ministry here, but they insisted I take one), but they visit the sick, praying over them and anointing with oil when it’s asked of them. They take time from their families to serve others, and seek to advance the Kingdom as they share with others along their way. They field complaints from without and within the church community with grace, they shoulder hurts with dignity, and seek to use their own lives to defend the flock from wolves, in sheep’s clothing, and blatant outside attackers. Shepherding the flock is not easy, but these men do so well, seeking to please God in all things.
In Acts chapter 20, the Apostle Paul meets with the Elders of the Ephesian Church, for what he realizes is the last time. So what does he do? He admonishes them to shepherd the flock God has entrusted to them:
“You yourselves know how I lived among you the whole time from the first day that I set foot in Asia, serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials that happened to me through the plots of the Jews; how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house, testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, constrained by the Spirit, not knowing what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me. But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. And now, behold, I know that none of you among whom I have gone about proclaiming the kingdom will see my face again.
Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all, for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God. Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears.
And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified. I coveted no one’s silver or gold or apparel. You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my necessities and to those who were with me. In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
And when he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all. And there was much weeping on the part of all; they embraced Paul and kissed him, being sorrowful most of all because of the word he had spoken, that they would not see his face again. And they accompanied him to the ship. (Acts 20: 18-38)
Appreciate those who shepherd the flock. Those who are godly do so to advance the Kingdom, often at great personal risk and expense. God bless and keep them.