The Bible tells us many things about the role of a pastor. I’m sure I don’t need to remind you of all of them. But I think God has something important for us to think through in this passage:
The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Woe to you shepherds of Israel who only take care of yourselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock? You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool, and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock. You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally.Ezekiel 34:1-4
Those last few lines have jumped out to me lately. I’ve read them before, but they’ve recently grabbed my attention in a new way. I certainly don’t want to be one of the shepherds God is against—and I’m sure you don’t either—so let’s take a closer look at the five things this verse says we need to make sure we’re doing.
1. Strengthen the weak.
There are so many students—and church members in general—who don’t fully understand what they claim they believe. And when their beliefs are questioned, their faith is shaken.
Take time to disciple those in your congregation, however that looks in your setting: one-on-one mentoring, small group discipleship with an emphasis on life application, training disciples to make disciples.
Whatever you’re doing, ensure that, ultimately, disciples of Jesus are being made. Teach theology and apologetics. Help those under your care to be able to defend their faith when questioned about it. This helps prevent them from being swayed with false philosophies and the trends of the culture.
2. Heal the sick.
Of course we need to reach out to ill or injured students and visit them, but I think this concept also applies to those who don’t realize they have a spiritual sickness—those who are stuck in sin.
Strive to guide them back to the Lord, no matter what their sin may look like. Remind them they are still loved and forgiven, but help them turn from the error of their ways and find help. Also, make sure they understand that the power of the Gospel is what saves them, and that Jesus wants to help them grow to be more like Him.
3. Bandage the injured.
I’ve seen a lot of people struggling with church hurt lately: upset believers who have been emotionally injured by a church full of people struggling with their sin nature.
If you notice a hurting believer, reach out to them and walk with them through the struggle. Hopefully it’s something we can help them with and bring them back to where God wants them: in a church community.
4. Bring back the strays.
I don’t think this means students who have moved to another healthy church, but rather those who have walked away from the faith. Many have been swayed by false philosophies and hurt feelings—seeing that their sins are accepted by the world and thinking they don’t need to change, or leaving the church because of sinful people who they don’t get along with or have misguided them.
If a student has left your church to go to another church that isn’t faithful to the Bible or Christ, then go get them and bring them back. In other words, have a loving conversation with them and help them see some different perspectives. If they don’t want to go to church anymore, pursue them like Christ pursued you and faithfully stay in contact with them.
5. Seek the lost.
We’re called to proclaim the Gospel to the ends of the earth—not just within the four walls of our churches. Yes, this is for every believer, but especially for the shepherds.
Who have you been sharing the Gospel with outside of church? How many lost people do you have a relationship with in the community where you live? Don’t expect your students to do this if you aren’t doing it first. Leaders need to fully embrace and model evangelism.
As you care for your flock in these five biblical ways, it will help ensure you’re shepherding well —that you’re serving as a pastor God approves of and not one He’s against.