(THE BITTER / SWEET EXPERIENCE OF THE MAN WHO BEARS THE STAFF).
Sis. Gift Ijeoma Jacobs (Church Mother).
The most challenging job on the surface of the earth is shepherding. Am I subscribing thus because I am a shepherd’s wife? It may not be far from the truth after all, nearest is dearest! It is so demanding, that our LORD and Saviour Jesus Christ says thus of it: “The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep” (John 10:11). He sure has paid the ultimate price and makes known the fact that shepherding, is about price paying.
From the day one heeds the call of God, the price paying begins and will never stop until one goes back to one’s Maker Who, is the only One Who pays back. Indeed none other can reward except the LORD.
Price paying differs and varies. Take it or leave it, a shepherd other wisely known as a Pastor, is the only one whose wife, shares him with other women (not amorously instead on lines of duty). Kudos to all Pastor’s wives who understand the calling of their husbands and supports them. The only closest rival a shepherd competes with on duty line, would be a medical doctor.
It is on record that he could be dinning with his family and suddenly his phone rings. Abandonment of that course would be the next line of action because duty calls. His children are often times abandoned so that he could attend to other children who are in one form of need or the other. The services rendered to his detriment cannot wholly be penned down. He simply dies a little for others to live. It hurts to see that to a large extent, he is seldom appreciated or his services reciprocated. Many think he is a superman while in reality, he is but flesh and blood as with all.
Most often, he intercedes for his sheep and many others who, do not know what he does, but seldom interceded for himself and family. Moses’ experience would make a better understanding of this claim. When God’s anger burned against His people, he stood in the gap and even dared God to delete his name out of God’s book of life; than for God to vent His anger on His people (Exodus 32:32). God granted his request and relented. When God’s anger burned against him, there was no congregation to intercede for him. What a profession!
The Pastor could be seen smiling outwardly but inwardly, his tales would never be believed. Sometimes everyone thinks all is well with him and his family. This is only a product of faith. He sees himself stand in the gap and pray for his congregation which God does not delay in answering. Many a time, when it becomes about him and his family, Paul’s tale becomes his and thus: “My Grace is sufficient for you” (2 Corinthians 12:9). But for the sufficiency of God’s Grace, many would have absconded and ran away from their duty posts. Glory be to God for His Grace.
The shepherd is readily misunderstood and misquoted. Who cares about his welfare! He rather is the one who should be seen caring for others even when he is hurting. What is more worrisome is when he makes an appeal and eventually asks for money. Eye brows would be raised. Meanings would be read. Except when such appeals are meant to satisfy the needs of a member of the congregation.
Tell them it is meant to offset a bill and such questions, as what about the ones we have been contributing would rent the air in murmuring moods. It hurts to realise that those who most often, champion and insinuate such, are those ones who, even knew that they contribute little or nothing. Nevertheless, they go on and utter words which weaken those who would want to give from the bottom of their hearts.
The cost of running the Church when it is as a result of secret contribution, is a very tedious one. Could this not have been the reason our LORD and Saviour Jesus, stood by the offering bowl while the congregation offered? (Mark 12:41). As the Chief Shepherd, He understands the plights of His servants. On that day in question, there were those who gave plenty. There are equally days when there is even not enough to foot bills. His comfort and reassurance have always been the source of courage to His servants. What a business one does shepherding!
Some shepherds are properly taken care of while there are those who only find strength in the LORD their God. What could be responsible for the various divides? The shepherd does not breed. His duty is to ensure that his sheep are fed. As with the saying that one could take the horse to the stream but cannot force it to drink water, so is it with feeding the sheep.
There are those who avail themselves to be fed and there are those ones who harden their hearts even when they are very hungry. Such ones only dwell in head knowledge of the Scripture and never allow themselves to be convicted by the Holy Spirit. This is what makes the difference: the WORD! It is one thing to hear the Word of God and a different thing to be doer of what one has heard.
Thus, some shepherds are blessed to have those who are fed and they remember the one who feeds them. As well as those shepherds who feed the sheep but they, chose not to reciprocate. The Scripture admonishes that the Elders who lead effectively are worthy of double honour (1 Timothy 5:17). It equally enjoins that those who labour by speaking the Word of God into His children should be remembered (Hebrews 13:7). Let the children of God wake up and take care of the shepherds now, that they are alive and stop celebrating them only when they die. Many shepherds are dying prematurely without finishing their courses mostly because of stress. Such deaths are avoidable if only we can allow the Spirit of God to lead us into all truths such as, taking care of those who labour to feed the sheep of God.
You can encourage your shepherds in diverse ways. There are those who allege that because their shepherds are working, they do not need to sow seeds into their lives. Shepherds are not beggars and what you give to them would be multiplied back into your bosom. Paul was a tent maker (Acts 18:1-3). Still at that, the Philippians encouraged him with gifts (Philippians 4:14-16). This, prompted that prayer Believers love to pray so dearly: “My God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).
Whenever your shepherd is taken care of, the Word needed to move you to another level, is given a push. If not why would Isaac request for food before realising blessing? (Genesis 27:7). God says He will give every Church; Pastors according to His own heart (Jeremiah 3:15). Any child of God who has been in a particular Church for some time, should understand that such has been planted there by God. Stop robbing Peter to pay Paul! It is wrong to be under the spiritual protection of a particular man of God and send your seeds to another. It was on this note that Paul questioned saying: If we have sown spiritual things for you, is it a great thing if we reap material things? (1 Corinthians 9:11-12). As your Pastor toils to feed you spiritually, it is just Godly to be a blessing to him no matter how little. Remember that by so doing, you are not doing him a favour instead, you are preparing your own harvest (Matthew 10:42).
I do not by any means intend to chide anyone but to stir up righteousness and its dividends in the hearts of Believers. Finanly, please remember the Scripture: “Buy the truth and sell it not” (Proverbs 23:23). It is the truth that sets free! Lies incarcerate! Unapplied truth however, does not bring any dividend. As you have read and begin to apply and thus support your pastors, may blessings untold be showered upon you in all you set out to do in the Mighty Name of our LORD and Saviour Jesus Christ, Amen.