Taking Care of One's Self While Caring for the Flock

References Taken from the Book of Luke

The Prayer of our Risen Lord (Luke 24:50-53)

As Christ left His disciples, He lifted up His hands in priestly fashion and blessed them. He was carried up into heaven with uplifted hands. The Savior’s attitude here reveals His relationship to His people in this age. It is an attitude of the fullness of His grace. The ascended Lord is blessing us, in His church, with all spiritual blessings. 


The Struggle of Moses’ Spiritual Survival - There were occasions when Israel rejected Moses’ counsel, leadership, and authority. Even his own family rebelled against him. Consider the following examples:

    Aaron’s weak defection over the golden calf (see Exodus 32).

    Miriam and Aaron’s jealousy of his position as God’s leader.

    The criticism of his marriage (see Numbers 12).

Under pressure he cracked once (see Numbers 20:10). It is a wonder he did not break more often. What was his secret? He was a man of enduring faith in the invisible God (Heb. 11:27). He communed long and often with God. The Lord spoke to Moses face to face as a man speaks to his friend.

Finally, Moses admitted his limitations. “I am not able to bear all this people alone, because the burdens are too heavy for me.” The Lord said: “Gather unto Me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom thou knowest to be elders of the people. I will take the Spirit which is upon thee and put it on them, and they shall bear the burden of the people with thee.” 


Prayer Before Choosing the Twelve Disciples (Luke 6:12) - This was a crisis of supreme importance. Christ continued all night in prayer. In this all night session, the Lord asked for infallible direction as to which He should choose to be His disciples. The choice was unprecedented in the world’s reckoning because they were poor, uneducated, and ignorant by the world’s standard - men most unlikely to succeed.

Consider the following: The quarrel between Barnabas and Paul over Mark. Man’s choice: Saul - But they were God’s men—men of God’s choosing. Consider also Samuel with Jesse’s son.


Prayer and The Transfiguration (Luke 9:28-29) - As our Lord prayed, the fashion of His countenance was changed, transfigured while praying —what a truth to ponder. Prayer can transfigure a person’s countenance and character. Prayer can fit him for every emergency. “Be not conformed to the world, be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.” In the quietness Christ revealed His glory and power.


Lord, teach us to pray! Consider the art of prayer—the Lord knew how to pray. Prayer was the fountain of the Lord’s ministry—and it should be ours. We would be saved from many of the scars of life if we lived in perpetual communion with God. We should be changed into Christ’s glorious image and filled with His power. 


Prayer for Peter’s Preservation (Luke 22:31-32) - This is an example of intercessory prayer. The Lord prayed for Peter’s protection in the hour of Satan’s assault. Murry McCheyne said, “If I could hear Jesus praying for me, I would not fear a thousand demons.” Beloved, the Lord is praying for us; for “He ever liveth to make intercession for us.” [Consider Moses praying in the mountain with Aaron and Hur and Joshua fighting] 


Prayer in the Garden (Luke 22:39-46) - Here we find Jesus in an agony of prayer. This prayer is incomparable in its intensity (strong crying and tears). His sweat appeared as great drops of blood. This prayer fortified Him and enabled Him to go through with the work of redemption. 


The Perpetual Ministry of Jesus Christ

    As the Good Shepherd, He died for us.

    As Bishop, He watches unceasingly over our souls (see Hebrews 4:15), carefully, continuously, and effectively.

    As Priest (in this priestly work), He is the pattern for every elder.

Doing this kind of work for God can bring untold joy. I have no greater joy than to see my children walk in truth. On the other hand, it can ruin a godly man’s spiritual perspective, especially when family and friends are involved. It can make a younger man age overnight. It can bring premature gray hairs as well as ulcers. Some good men have been lost to the assembly because of the abuse they have received while serving God and the Church.

How Can We Avoid Such Tragedies?

Let us look at how the Lord coped with the stresses while doing God’s work: In Luke’s Gospel the writer gives the picture of the perfect humanity of the Lord. It is not surprising that he reveals more of the prayer life of the Lord, than the other Synoptic Gospels. The parables in Luke show the Lord’s concern for lost humanity (Recovering-Reclaiming-Restoring). This gospel of compassion manifests the Lord’s sympathy for the broken-hearted, the sick, the mistreated, and the bereaved. Seven times, prior to the resurrection, we find the Lord at prayer (see Isaiah 40:31). Prayer preceded the great crises of our Lord’s ministry. 


Jesus Prayed at His Baptism (Luke 3:21-22) - No doubt His prayer had reference to His time in the wilderness. This communion with God brought Him forth triumphant, and Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit (see Luke 4:14 and Ephesians 6:12 - The Armor of God). 


Jesus Prayed in the Wilderness (Luke 5:16) - The Lord withdrew himself into the wilderness and prayed. At this time, He was riding the wave of popularity. Hero-worshippers surrounded him. He saw Satan in the crowds. At a later date He said, “Woe unto you when men shall speak well of you.” He escaped the perils of popularity by withdrawing into the wilderness to be alone with God in prayer. The tense of the phrase “withdrew Himself into the wilderness” suggests a habitual withdrawing. Our only escape from the pride of life is the desert and its prayer watch.


Tending the Flock (Isaiah 40:28-31)

The Good Samaritan exposed himself to extreme danger while helping an unfortunate fellow traveler. [Describe] Then, finally, he brought him to the Inn, and “took care of him.” This same word occurs in 1 Timothy 3:5. The elder firstly has to take care of his own house, then to take care of the church of God.

See Isaiah 40:4, “As a good-shepherd he has to feed the flock, gather the lambs in his arms, carry them in his bosom. Gently lead those with young.” A true elder should take care of the wounded, comfort the distressed, and help those who fall into the hands of the enemy. Paul’s relationship to the Thessalonian church illustrates the character and work of a Scriptural elder. He was a mother to them - and a father, a brother, and a nurse. As such he loved them - He disciplined. He stood by them. He took care of them. He poured out his soul for them because he loved them.

When Paul addressed the elders of Ephesus, he exhorted them to function in two distinct spheres:

    They were to “oversee” the church - to supervise the church. This is a tremendous responsibility. Couched within this sphere is the difficult area of authority. The assembly is not a democracy. It is a theocracy. With authority there comes discipline, in this area circumstances arise which are difficult to handle. For perilous times, see 2 Timothy 3:1.

    They were to feed the church - they were to tend, pastor, and shepherd. Elders being apt to teach should feed the local church from the Word. Tending the sheep takes them into all areas of life. They descend into the valley seeking green pastures and still waters. They ascend into the lonely mountains seeking those who have gone astray. The Lord as the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls is our example.