The other day I shared how I was feeling about religion and what it would mean to be authentic in my walk. This morning, along the same vein, I was meditating on what it means to be a shepherd. And, what it means to be sheep.
On occasion, I have heard people lament that their pastor doesn’t “feed” them; the message is too surface, too seeker friendly, not deep enough. As one who has followed Christ for a while now, I too, long to go deeper.
But whose job is that?
A shepherd leads his sheep to pasture – he protects and directs. He looks ahead for the best grass, water, and assesses opportunities for danger. Often, he has a helpmate (partner or shepherding dog) to direct the sheep, and to help him reach the intended destination. Sometimes they follow their flock, gently urging them forward, and at other times they take the lead and the animals instinctively follow.
Similarly, we as believers can choose to buy in to the vision of the pastor as he moves toward where he feels called by God. In 1 Corinthians 11:1, Paul admonishes us to follow him as he pursued the Lord. He didn’t offer to hold our hand; he said to watch what he did, and do the same. Paul openly admitted he didn’t have all the answers, but he knew who did. He just said follow.
We are led by our pastors, but the work is actually ours.
When Jesus appeared to Peter on the seashore, he told him to “feed his sheep.” He first prepared a meal, then told his disciple to go and do the same. Again, he expected Peter to learn by example. Go, and do.
So what does that look like for those of us following and feeling dissatisfied? Those of us wanting to go deeper? Given that a one on-one-daily devotional at the hand of a single pastor for each member of his congregation is unreasonable, who in our community is responsible to feed, nurture and mentor those ready to grow?
Jesus said to go and make disciples – go and build relationship. To make a disciple is to walk with another in intimate relationship, to fellowship, grow with and share. To go deeper means to link arms with another believer as you both pursue Christ.
According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of disciple is: