In our last post, we emphasized the necessity of focus in carrying out your Father’s business. We learned that Rebekah had no time to busy herself in the affairs of others. Her focus was solely on caring for the family business. Her faithfulness caused her to run headlong into her destiny.
THE SHEPHERDING BUSINESS
Residing with her brother, a shepherd, I’m sure one of Rebekah’s duties was also to play the role of a shepherd even as her niece Rachel had. This can be evidenced by her ability to provide water for Eliezer’s camels.
Once we have become acquainted with Jesus, and have begun to build a deep and intimate relationship with him, we are promoted by our Father to assist in attending His sheep. Peter’s title for this promotion is “royal priesthood .” In order for us to fulfill our obligations in this newly appointed promotion, we must gain a clear understanding of our job description as a shepherd.
The duties of a shepherd include tending, herding, feeding, and guarding herds of sheep. Now let’s look more closely at each of these responsibilities:
To tend means to pay attention, as if to listen, to serve, and to act as a caretaker. As a royal priesthood, one of our duties is to be our brother’s keeper. We are responsible for building up and encouraging our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ (our Father’s sheep). We are responsible for lending an ear when they have emotional needs. We are required to serve them by ministering the truth of God’s Word to them.
To herd means to gather, to lead, to keep together. It also means to place oneself in a group as in to associate with a group. Being promoted to a royal priesthood suggests that we have been placed in a leadership position. Not only are we to serve individuals, but we are to find ourselves associated with a group.
These days, there are a multitude of Christians that are not associated with a local assembly. Wounds and offenses in the local church have driven many of God’s sheep into a state of spiritual homelessness. However, as we grow in the knowledge of Christ, it should be our greatest priority to allow God to lead us into an assembly where He can place us as the priests that we have been ordained to be as the writer alluded to in Hebrews 10:25. We were not created to be an island unto ourselves. Our job is to be iron that sharpens Iron.
I am not advocating that people rush out in search of a platform to preach. I am advocating that we should all be stationed at a local assembly where we can hold one another accountable under the covering that God has assigned us as we serve one another. We are simply sheep with responsibilities to be our brothers’ keepers.
To “keep together” emphasizes the need to maintain unity among groups. Therefore we have no freedom to sow discord through gossip, backbiting, or any other forms of slander. Whether we are leading a group or finding ourselves a part of a group, our job is to keep unity and rebuke the spirit of discord.
Just as a parent feeds a child, our responsibility as Christians is to feed others what we ourselves have feasted from. Many people assume that this is something that must be done from a pulpit. But quite the contrary, anytime you engage in conversation with someone an opportunity for feeding presents itself. If you really want to feed what you’ve learned, then simply ask our Father to arrange an encounter with whomever you are to impart into. If you ask in unwavering faith, you are guaranteed to be presented with an opportunity.
The verb “to guard” provides us with the gravity of our role as priests. First, it means to watch someone in order to prevent escape. The first thing that often comes to mind is a prison guard. However if you consider just how “dumb” sheep are, you’ll understand that they have a tendency to wander anywhere, just as a toddler would. For this cause, they don’t need someone with a billy club. Instead, they need a “baby sitter” to keep an eye on them to ensure that they don’t drift away from their safe environment.
As I was growing up, we had a border-collie named Lightning. She was a significant fixture in my life, and my long-time companion for the first seventeen years of my life, I had never heard of or seen a border-collie other than Lighting until around the age of twenty-five or so. One night on “Late Night With Dave Letterman”, a guest appeared on the show who raised border collies. I remember getting so excited when about four or five dogs rushed to the stage, all looking exactly like Lightning! While I longed for and missed my childhood dog immensely, I was astounded to learn that the border-collie was innately gifted at shepherding.
The gentleman demonstrated the gift these dogs naturally possessed by releasing a large number of geese onto the stage. Immediately the dogs instinctively began to run around the perimeter of the geese and nudge them back into the group. None of the geese could escape the safety of these dogs’ watchful eyes. Our job is to guard God’s people by ensuring they don’t drift back out into a life of sin.
During my stay in South Africa, I was amazed at the number of times I would hear the expression, “What would people say?” I discovered that the main concern of many people was witnessing hurt feelings. Therefore, they would refrain from bringing correction or instruction that could help save the spiritual lives of others. But this is in direct opposition to God’s will to ensure that we esteem our fellow co-laborers’ safety as more important than hurt feelings. Such situations require prayer for holy boldness in God’s timing, so that we can have the confidence to speak the heart of God without fear of repercussions.
Another definition of guard is “to be careful about not telling or talking about (something, such as a secret).” Proverbs 4:23 says “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” The word “keep” means guard, or protect. Often God gives us a vision and our first inclination is to do what Joseph did when God gave him a dream. We run out and tell everyone we know. But Joseph’s “spilling the beans” ended up costing him thirteen years of enslavement and imprisonment.
As shepherding sheep, we must first learn to protect our own hearts by applying what a friend of mine once called “hush mouth grace.” Once we have proven to God that we can protect what God is birthing in us, we will find ourselves more equipped to guard the secrets of others who feel a need to confide in us.
Make the following prayer yours:
Lord, teach me Your business so that I can be busy about that and that alone. Please forgive me for the times I’ve found myself caught up in matters that did not concern me. Teach me to not be a busybody, but rather to keep my body busy about Your business. Prepare me to be the priest you’ve called me to be and usher in those you’ve equipped me to minister to. Fill me with “hush mouth grace” so that I won’t speak anything that offends You, and holy boldness to proclaim, “Thus says the Lord…” In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!
 Genesis 29:9
 Genesis 24:19
 1 Peter 2:9
 Acts 2:42, 46
 Proverbs 27:17
 Isaiah 58:1
 Ezekiel 3:17
 Ezekiel 3:17-22
 Proverbs 27:5
 Ephesians 6:19