It’s amazing how God’s Word ministers to us in our daily lives. In my own personal Bible reading I currently find myself in the book of Ezekiel. This book can be a little difficult to navigate, but God has taught me things each day. Today was no different. As many of you are aware, in two days I will be installed as Pastor here at Cleveland Baptist Church. With this weighing heavily upon me, the Lord providentially brought me to Ezekiel 34 this morning.
The 34th chapter of Ezekiel is a word of prophesy against the shepherds of Israel. God says to them in verse 2, “Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flocks?” This verse captured my attention at an early hour this morning because of the understanding that a pastor is an under shepherd of the flock of God, the local church. I believe God had this for me today, and I’d like to share what He taught me as I prepare to enter this new role.
- Shepherds are to care for their flock first – vs. 2-4
Shepherds are to feed the flock, care for the diseased and those who are sick, as well as bind up the broken. As I consider my new role as pastor, I’m sure I will have plenty of opportunities to feed the flock of God which is the people of Cleveland Baptist Church. I can do that as I study and immerse myself into God’s Word in preparation to preach and teach. Because Cleveland Baptist is a large church, there will be plenty of folks who will encounter disease and sickness that I will have an opportunity to care for. We are dealing with a good deal of that right now in our ministry context. Finally, because of our proximity to a major population center, there are, and will be, numerous opportunities to interact with and attempt to bind those who are broken. The ministry is never to be about advancing oneself, but it is a role of service and caring for the flock.
- Shepherds are to seek after those who have wandered away – vs. 4-6
I have been a part of Cleveland Baptist Church since birth. That’s 40 years of life that I have lived as a part of this community. I have served as a part of the pastoral team here for 18 ½ years – that’s a long time in one place. I have seen a lot of people come, and sadly, a lot of people go. Many times folks leave because they relocate or God moves them to another church in this area. While I miss them, I wish them well, and I’m thankful that they are where they believe God would have them to be. But many have fallen away and are no longer serving the Lord at all or attending church. They’ve made some poor choices and maybe no longer feel comfortable in a church environment. As a shepherd I’m to lovingly reach out to them and try to bring them back into the fold. I hope to be able to build some bridges for folks to return to this loving environment where they can be served and ministered unto.
- Careless shepherds are judged by God – vs. 7-10
It’s serious business to serve as a shepherd. Those who lead God’s flock are directly accountable to Him. The last place I want to find myself is verse 10 where the Bible reads “Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against the shepherds…” The privilege to serve as a shepherd comes with great responsibility. I pray I will always steward this role well so as to not find God opposed to me and my efforts.
- He is a great Shepherd – vs. 11-16
When the shepherds of God’s flock are negligent, God Himself leads His flock. I have no excuse to not be a good shepherd for I have the example of God’s shepherding His flock throughout the Word and in my own personal life, as well as watching my dad serve in this capacity for nearly 24 years. I step into this role on Sunday with some amount of fear and trepidation, but I am confident that in areas of personal weakness or times when I disappoint those in this flock, God Himself will lead to cool waters and green pastures. You see, this Sunday, CBC transitions in Pastor as we have done one other time in our church’s history, but our head remains the same as it has been since 1958. His name is Jesus Christ, and He is truly a wonderful shepherd.