There is an urgent call for godly and disinterested men as shepherds of God’s people. The flock for which the Good Shepherd gave His life is pressingly in need of them; men of the sort described by the apostle Peter, who will “feed the flock which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly, not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fad-eth not away” (1 Pet. 5:l-4).
Thus will the God-given overseer sincerely and genuinely look after the flock, and his care will have the appearance of a spontaneous flow from the heart, like the upflow of an artesian well. Of such it will be blessedly true, “The hearts of the saints are refreshed by thee, brother” (Philemon 7, R.V.). This condition comes by sweet communion with God in the sanctuary, and there realising how precious to the Shepherd are the sheep and lambs of His flock. He who desires the work will often find it arduous, at times unpleasant, and even unpopular; he must be prepared for suffering, discouragement, perplexity and misunderstanding. If prepared for this unique path, which true and noble men have trodden, which the Lord’s footsteps have marked as His own; then He hath need of thee!
Besides the usual work of oversight in well established Assemblies, there is much need of wise men with shepherd hearts, set at liberty to visit the little struggling companies of believers here and there; some hidden away in the backblocks, some nestled on the lower slopes of ranges, some in the up-country townships—all needing a sympathetic care for their state. To cast in one’s lot with the people of God scattered abroad; for them to live and labour; to cheerfully “endure all things for the elect’s sake”; this will bring its own special reward in the “crowning day” coming by-and-by.
A fine example is given us in Luke 2:8, to be well remembered: “And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the fields, keeping watch over their flocks by night.” Like Jacob they, probably, could say, “Thus I was, in the day the drought consumed me, and the frost by night, and my sleep departed from mine eyes” (Gen. 31:40). In this thing also let us keep before us God’s servant Moses who “endured, as seeing Him who is invisible,” and who had “respect unto the recompense of the reward” (Heb. 11:24-27).
The great mustering of the sheep from every land is coming, when the whole flock shall be gathered in the fold above. In view of that time it behoves us to be busy in the field, early and late, counting no toil too much for Christ’s beloved sheep.