Recently I was asked to do a lecture at a Christian university. The class was students comprised of men who were training to go into the ministry. As I put the finishing touches on the lecture I opened it up to questions.
The questions were all over the map. Everything from sexual purity, how long does it take to prepare a sermon, to life balance, you get the idea. However, there was one question that stood out and pricked my soul. My prayer is that it also pricked those that were listening then and reading now.
The question was actually simplistic in nature. It was as follows:
“Pastor, how has your preaching changed or what is different about your preaching now since you first started out?”
I looked that young man in the eye and said, “Son, when I first started out I was arrogant and did not even know it. I thought I had to win every battle that came across my desk. I have now learned that I no longer need to win the battle as I am more concerned about the war.”
To be arrogant is to feel superior, to have a need to be right, or put other people’s noses in it. The actual definition is: having or revealing an exaggerated sense of one’s own importance or abilities. That was me!
You see, I was more interested in my pet doctrines than I was for the lost. I was more interested in speaking than listening. My library of books consisted of those who only thought like me. My circle of friends mirrored my thoughts.
Then I remembered why Jesus came. He came to seek and save the Lost. He came to bear witness to the truth. Jesus was a man on a mission. He loved the sheep. Even the smelly, nippy little sheep. Sheep bite you know!
Faithful Pastors are shepherds, certainly not perfect but they are to care for the flock entrusted to them. John 10:11 tells us, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”
I heard Pastor Johnny Hunt say that “Shepherds need to smell like sheep.” And tenure has taught me that you don’t choose your sheep, God does. They come in all sizes and shapes and, believe me buddy, some of them sheep will test you, pull you, and some may even curse you! You are called to love them anyway. I now love my sheep and consider it pure joy to be their Shepherded.
Allow the words of Charles Hodge to help you as it did me. “The doctrines of Grace humble a man without degrading him and exalt a man without inflating him.”
Yes and Amen to that Brother Hodge. I NOW understand what you meant by that!