The Shepherd’s Heart Part 2
By George Stahnke
There are two interwoven aspects of the Shepherd’s Heart in the context of the church, feeding and tending (governance). This is clearly seen in the conversation between Peter and Jesus.
John 21: 15-17 (ESV): When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.
Feed: Tend (G1006 boskō); portraying the duty of a Christian teacher to promote in every way the spiritual welfare of the members of the church. Those with a Shepherds Heart will:
- Feed and nourish with balanced biblical teaching
- Provide individualized care through counseling, prayer and visitation.
Tend: Shepherd (G4165 poimainō); rule, govern, furnish pasture for food, to nourish: from G4166: to tend as a shepherd (figuratively to supervise).
Tending in governance is essential for the stability of a local congregation. It also helps to maintain spiritual and relational well-being within the people. The lead shepherd with his team will do the following:
- Establish and defend sound biblical doctrine.
- Formulate and teach vision and purpose regarding the mission of the church.
- Establish operational ministry systems and protocols.
- Correct and discipline were needed to bring about repentance and reconciliation.
Those with a Shepherd’s Heart endeavor to serve with humility and lead by personal example in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity.4 In the Shepherd’s Heart, there can be no room for petty striving for position or recognition. There is no need to boast about accomplishments for the shepherd recognizes that any measure of success is by God’s grace.5 He is always careful to give praise to God for the honor and privilege it is to serve the body of Christ!
The Shepherd’s Heart recognizes that it’s a team effort.6 The Shepherd’s Heart is by its nature a Servant’s Heart!7 Those of us who seek to live out of a Shepherd’s Heart also understand that it is by God’s grace and mercy in their lives, and by the power of the Holy Spirit.8
Paul, in writing to his dear friend Timothy said, “If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task.”9 The word overseer is episkopē (G1984) meaning bishop, elder, the presiding officers of the church.
In my understanding, this title would include the lead pastor, associate pastors, elders, those who are publically set forth in the local church who provide spiritual leadership and oversight.10 This “noble task” requires a Shepherd’s Heart. I have been in ministry forty years and can attest that acquiring this heart is a progressive work that can only mature as we remain wholly submitted to the Word of God and Holy Spirit. This heart is still being formed in me!
4 1 Corinthians 4:16, 11:1; Philippians 3:17; 1 Thessalonians 1:6; 1 Timothy 4:12
5 1 Corinthians 15:10, Romans 12:3; Philippians 2:13;
6 1 Corinthians 3:1-9; 2 Corinthians 10:12
7 Matthew 20:26-28; 23:11; Mark 9:35, Ephesians 3:7; Colossians 1:25
8 Ephesians 3:7; 2 Corinthians 3:4-5; 2 Corinthians 4:1; Colossians 1:29; 1 Peter 4:10-11
9 1 Timothy 3:1
10 Acts 20:28; Philippians 1:1