Understanding the heart of
the true Shepherd is necessary for knowing how to emulate His model to the
flock under one’s care. It would
be easy to describe what we ourselves think a pastor’s heart should be like
based on our current or previous pastors, church-growth gurus, and our own experience
and personality; however, seeing the heart of the true Pastor in the Bible and
imitating Him is our authoritative model.
Jesus said, “I am the good
shepherd. The good shepherd lays
down his life for the sheep” (Jn 10:11).
Essentially, the heart of a shepherd is that of a bondservant. Although, it can be misleading to argue
that Jesus’ heart was one solely of service. It is not a problem if we mean what Mark 10:45 meant by
service, in that Jesus “came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life
as a ransom for many”. It is true
that Jesus’ heart of compassion for His people was often demonstrated in
meeting physical needs, like feeding hungry people and healing demonized
people. However, it is misleading
to contend that Jesus’ heart in ministry was primarily to serve the felt-needs
of everyone—always available to counsel, accepting every party invitation, and
giving ample consolation to every hurting person.
"It is misleading to contend that Jesus’ heart in ministry was primarily to serve the felt-needs of everyone" - Tweet this
The over-active ministries
of some pastors demonstrate their heart’s passion is to be always available to
hear complaints, ready to counsel anyone at any time, willing to frequently
hang out with the sheep, and to present enjoyable dynamic sermons that the
sheep want to hear. Such a
busybody-heart can actually demonstrate that such an under-shepherd may have a
Messiah-complex, which shows his heart is mainly driven by pride, believing he
can “do it all”, and not by submission to the Chief Shepherd’s commands.
This may sound heartless
and unspiritual, but it is true: it simply was not Jesus’ heart passion to heal
all the sick and meet all the demands of the needy, though He cared more for
them than any other. His heart’s
desire was to fulfill what the Father sent Him to do: to save His people from
damnation (Jn 3:17), that He would be lifted up on a cross so that believers
could have eternal life (Jn 3:14-15).
The Father sent Him so that whoever feeds on Him would live forever (Jn
6:57-58). Jesus’ chief passion as
a Shepherd was eternal and spiritual in nature, though He certainly cared for
the physical and emotional pangs of the masses.