The spiritual Gift we are looking at is the gift, listed in Ephesians 4:11, of being a ‘pastor’ or ‘shepherd’. In John’s Gospel Jesus calls himself the Good Shepherd who lays his life down for his sheep and in our New Testament passage we hear Peter teaching others how to be a shepherd in the church. Peter is the one who deserted Jesus, but despite this, Jesus amazingly calls Peter to be a shepherd and ‘feed my sheep’ (John 21:17). So, what exactly does a shepherd do?
Nurture — ‘tend the flock of God that is in your charge’ (1 Peter 5:2). The shepherd cares for people’s physical, emotional and spiritual needs. This means knowing the sheep and even smelling like them! The shepherd will need to be sacrificial, willing to suffer for the sake of their sheep.
Protect — ‘Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in your faith.’ (1 Peter 5:8) Those with the gift of shepherding will need to protect the flock against false teaching or disunity, so they will need to be brave, steadfast and on guard.
Guide — ‘be examples to the flock’ (1 Peter 5:3). The shepherd will teach the word of God, but will also lead by example — they will have a humble and godly character to inspire others to live a life of faith.
Anyone who has responsibility for a group of believers, whether it is a family, a home group, a prayer group, or a church will need this gift of shepherding. But being a shepherd can be a tough job! It is reassuring to remember that Peter was not perfect, but was chosen by Jesus and as we too follow Jesus, our chief Shepherd, he will ‘himself restore, support, strengthen, and establish you!’ (1 Peter 5:10).