Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care, watching over
them - not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants
you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording
it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.
1 Peter 5:2-3
When we read verses like this, it's pretty easy to think they don't apply to us because we aren't all pastors or elders. Or are we?
As children of the light, we are all given positions of influence. Not a single one of us is free from responsibility to those whose lives intersect with ours. We haven't been put on this earth to draw breath until our breath has been taken, but rather to make a difference for the kingdom of God.
So if we have been entrusted to shepherd those under our care, who is under our care? Everyone. Plain and simple. If we have an interaction, an encounter, an experience, or an engagement with another human being, they are under our care. Not necessarily under our leadership or direction unless we've been given a position like that, but most definitely under our care. And just so you know, we are under theirs.
As believers we are meant to live in community, not isolation. We are supposed to watch out for each other so that we can prevent stumbles, falls, and downward spirals that lead no place good. And we are also meant to encourage and spur one another on to good works. None of this is to be pursued for selfish gain because this isn't about making our lives easier when others are doing what they should. This is about kingdom impact and God's glory. Being examples for those weaker in the faith, those not sure what they believe, and especially those who are outside looking in.
The problem is that we are all so busy that we aren't taking this charge seriously. We have social media that lets us think we're connecting with others but we really aren't. We don't ask deep questions because we say it's none of our business. We ignore the promptings of the Spirit to speak the truth in love because we might overstep or offend. And we believe that if we get too close to the pain or discomfort of another it will be our downfall. Since when does loving others well bow down to fear?
Living out this truth isn't going to come easily, but difficulty doesn't absolve us from responsibility. Thankfully we don't have to do this in our own strength. And with resurrection power living inside of us, we need only to tap into it and watch God move through our obedience.
Father, forgive us for the times we get lax about loving others the way You expect us to. We get so wrapped up in our own lives and fear because we don't want to appear over-bearing or intrusive. Remind us that You call us to live in community, to share and carry each others burdens, and to do all of this willingly to serve in Your name. Give us the wisdom we need to always direct each other back to You. Amen.