I read this statement recently about sheep :
“Sheep are born followers. They are not independent travelers. They must have a human conductor. They cannot go to predetermined places by themselves. They cannot start out in the morning in search of pasture and then come home at evening time. They have, apparently, no sense of direction. The greenest pasture may be only a few miles away, but the sheep left to themselves cannot find it. What animal is more incapable than a sheep ? He realizes his impotence, for no animal is more docile. Where the shepherd leads, the sheep will go. He knows the shepherd is a guide and that it is safe to follow him.” (Charles Edward Jefferson, The Minister as Shepherd, p. 47.)
Is it any wonder the Bible describes people (us !) as sheep ? I feel like that paragraph could be the story of my own life. How about you ?
Is it any wonder the Bible describes the Lord as a shepherd ? He directs, leads, feeds, protects, comforts, loves, …. Someone this week encouraged me with this verse from the Proverbs : “The mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps” (Proverbs 16:9). So, I guess I’m a just a notch above the level of a sheep. I can at least make plans … and should make plans. But, the comfort is in knowing that the Lord directs our steps. Oh, that we would be open to the Shepherd changing our steps and leading our lives !
In addition to the Lord, our Great Shepherd, we have need of human shepherds. Human shepherds come in all shapes and sizes and are found in many different places. Perhaps a friend is a shepherd for you ; or a parent ; or someone in a small group you’re part of. Church elders are also among the shepherds God has placed in our lives.
This Sunday morning we’ll take a break from the stories in the book of Judges and spend some time talking about spiritual leaders in general, and church elders in particular. “Choosing and Being a Church Elder : Does It Really Matter ?” will be our theme, from 1 Peter 5:1-5, and 1 Timothy 3:1-7. Since we are, at Emmanuel, in the process of nominating and choosing some new church elders for next year (along with other officers), shouldn’t we take the time to really consider what this position is and how we should go about recognizing the shepherds God wishes us to have ? I’ve found, over the years, that for many people a church Elder Board is a mystery. Are elders like corporate executives ? Are they advisors to the pastors ? Are they “representatives” of the people ? Most of the men who have served as elder at Emmanuel didn’t feel up to the task ; and some weren’t entirely certain what to expect … or what was expected of them.
This Sunday, let’s sharpen our sense of what God is doing in our lives through spiritual shepherds.
As a means of preparing for Sunday, I’ve included the questions Allison Roth prepared for this week’s Parents Engage packet which will be available Sunday morning. Don’t forget before the worship service to get a Kids Engage packet for your little one to use during the service, and a Parents Engage packet for your whole family to use as discussion later in the day or week !
Family Discussion Starter : What is a shepherd’s job ? How are church pastors and elders like shepherds ? Is there someone God wants you to shepherd ?
Family Memory Verse : “To the elders among you … Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under you care, watching over them – not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be” (1 Peter 5:1-2). (For younger children : “To the elders among you … Be shepherds of God’s flock.”)
Family Activity : Find a way to encourage your elders and pastors this week. Write a letter of appreciation, draw them a picture, bake them some cookies.
Sounds like a great idea for anyone who is a shepherd in your life !
Help For Your Marriage
I know of one couple from Emmanuel who went to Gary Chapman’s conference last weekend, “The Marriage You’ve Always Wanted,” at First E-Free in St Louis. I remember when Diana and I, and several others from Emmanuel, attended that same conference in the Kansas City area several years ago. Chapman’s materials on marriage and communication are practical, funny, and powerful. I will never forget that conference, the conversations it provoked between Diana and me, … and I still use some of the teaching from that conference in counseling couples preparing for marriage. I encourage you to visit Gary Chapman’s website, http://www.5lovelanguages.com/, and take a look at some resources that might be helpful to you.
Serve St Louis
Don’t forget that if you would like to participate in Serve St Louis in Hermann, through St George School, on October 12 (morning or afternoon), let me know of your availability. I will pass your name on to St George School. Also, if you’re aware of a simple service project in the community that others could take part in, pass that along to me as well. Thank you.
See you Sunday !
Classes at 9:00.
Worship at 10:15.