“Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of my pasture!” declares the Lord. Therefore this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says to the shepherds who tend my people: “Because you have scattered my flock and driven them away and have not bestowed care on them, I will bestow punishment on you for the evil you have done,” declares the Lord. “I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them and will bring them back to their pasture, where they will be fruitful and increase in number. I will place shepherds over them who will tend them, and they will no longer be afraid or terrified, nor will any be missing,” declares the Lord.
“The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will raise up for David[a] a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land. In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which he will be called: The Lord Our Righteous Savior.” —Jeremiah 23:1-6 (NIV)
Just as sheep need a shepherd to guide and protect them, the people of Israel need responsible leaders to provide for them. Wise leadership matters.
Jeremiah 23:1-6, concerns shepherds and their sheep. Prophetically alluding to Christ as our shepherd, so too are we to emulate Christ in our leadership. Leadership is essential to human flourishing, which is why all of us are called to lead in our stewardship. Sure, there may be times where we are called to follow, but we are never to abstain from leading as Christ would in our daily lives. Even when no one is watching we are called to steward all that God has placed in our care. Consider the gospel reading of Mark 6:30-34, which refers to the crowd following Jesus “like sheep not having a shepherd.”
Though our passage in Jeremiah is an issuance of judgment up shepherds specifically who have not upheld their duties to their flock, I think that this can be applied to our how we steward our lives as Christ-followers. It is safe to assume that the prophet was not merely concerned with shepherds and livestock alone (though that is not out of the question). Instead, the prophet is speaking metaphorically as would’ve been common to the listener’s context of human kings and leaders as shepherds to the people. Shepherds are supposed to take care of their sheep. Feed them; protect them; guide them. So too are we to take care of all that God has place in our hands to steward.
How can you be a better shepherd this week?
In what ways do you feel stewardship needs fine-tuned in your life?
Is God calling you to sacrifice something to be a better steward of something else?
Where do you see God leading you to exercise your giftedness to glorify him in serving others?