We often say death and taxes are the only two sure things in life. But there is more to life than that. Living a life to the fullest, rich and rewarding, is a goal that Jesus had for all of us. He wants each of us to be able to look back and say that we lived our lives in such a way that pleased God. Notice Deuteronomy 30:19-20:
This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
We get to choose life–a pastoral life. And we get to live it in abundance. Our first president, whose understanding of living the good life was in offering others our service and care, said it like this:
“How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant of the weak and the strong. Because someday in life you will have been all of these.”
– George Washington
Jesus reminded us about the possibility of an abundant life in the Gospel of John. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” You may remember that this chapter of John is about the Good Shepherd and His Sheep. There is no one more pastoral than Jesus and He always has the most well tended and cared for flock.
This is the gift he offers to us daily. We are the sheep of His pasture. He is, as David said, our Shepherd.
All of the beauty of love and God’s thoughts toward us can be found in this pastoral scene. Jesus as Chief Shepherd can never be matched or bested as the one who loves and cares for us with amazing consistency.
For this reason and this promise of His to never leave us nor forsake us, He also sent shepherds into the world, to be caregivers after his own heart.
These pastors are precious and paramount in His plan for our lives, here and now and then and there. That being so, I want to explore with you what the Pastorate is all about, it’s highs and lows, what it is supposed to be about and what it looks like when it is serving God well and what it looks like when it fails.
If there is one thing our church has always needed and may need now more than ever, it is Spirit-filled pastors. Partners in prayer with God. Pastors who will lay down their lives for the sheep in order to see that they come into the abundant life.
After 30 years of pastoring inside the church and more to come outside the church as a hospice Chaplain, I can offer you fresh hope that your pastor is part of God’s plan for your abundant life here and your glorious life in eternity.
In the meantime, join me in praying for your pastor. Much depends on it.
Next time I’ll talk about the original two professions, farming and shepherding, and the difference between the two. At some point we will talk about Jesus as our Master Shepherd, the 23rd Psalm, the state of today’s pastors, how to help your pastor, and general topics of pastor/shepherding that will make your church a haven for weary souls and tired travelers.