We have mentioned in previous posts that Jesus is the Good Shepherd who leads, guides, cares, and lays his life for his sheep John 10:1-21.The sheep are the people. The sheep that live under the care of the good shepherd will never be led astray or lost. Jesus fulfilled his ministry as good shepherd in his earthly life by leading, caring, curing the people, and finds and saves those who are lost and needed. As Jesus commended Peter if he really loves him he has to tend and feed the sheep (John 21, 15-18).
Following the model of Jesus Christ, Peter was the shepherd who continued to build the Church of Christ after his resurrection and ascension to heaven. Who are the shepherds in the Church now? The leaders of the Church are the shepherds such as the Pope, bishops and priests. The Popes as the successors of Peter leading the Church through the model of Jesus Christ to take care the God‘s flock.
They are chosen to be shepherds of the people. Feeding the sheep does not mean merely giving them food but to guide, guard and light them spiritually to make a difference in the lives of the people that is to make them happy and feel loved. The good shepherd is to bring the people closer to God and to show the love of Christ for them.
So, Shepherding in the contemporary ministry means that the leader of the Church lays his life for the Church. To be a shepherd is to take care of the sheep; the leader of the church ought to take care and has responsibility toward his people. In the Church we need goods shepherds like Jesus because there are many lost, wandering and wounded sheep in the Church.
The diocesan priests and religious men and women dedicate their life to the church it means they have the responsibility to be shepherds as Jesus was in his mission. ―I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.‖ (John 10:11).
The duties of the leaders are to care and protect the people in the Church because they are chosen by God to continue the ministry of Jesus as shepherd. As Patrick M. Maliti points out that ―A good shepherd is one who is with the sheep seven days a week; thirty days a months and twelve months in a year in imitation of Christ the good shepherd who knows His sheep (John 10:4) accompanies them and leads them (John 10:4), loves them and lays down His life for them (John 10:11). The role of a shepherd on a pasture based farm is to guide the sheep to the place where they graze.
God’s design for the church is based on a pasture- based model of a shepherd pastor leading the people to feed themselves on the pasture of God‘s Word, rather than the building based feed of model. God desires a shepherd style pastor who really cares for the needs of the flock.
God’s design for the church is that most of the spiritual food comes from the people gathering it themselves and meditating on it and that the pastor‘s messages be a significantly smaller portion of their total spiritual food. Therefore in other posts we will focus on the relevance of shepherding in contemporary ministry especially on the role of the leaders of the Church as shepherds such as bishops and priests and the importance of pastoral ministry.