Yesterday’s post here, perhaps inevitably raised the question about why some sheep do not want to be cared for by the shepherd. One of the reasons for this is that some sheep have been hurt by shepherds and therefore are very wary of trusting that shepherd again or receiving the care of other shepherds.
This can be very real and I do not want to dismiss the impact that this can have in the ongoing attitude of the believer who has been badly treated, even mauled, by a shepherd. Bad treatment can have come in a number of ways. A shepherd could have:-
- been violent, most likely through words, but possibly physically.
- offered unbiblical counsel.
- had little sympathy for their hard circumstances.
All of this has led to hurt and a resistance to pastoral care being received. To this I offer three observations:-
- All sheep, that is true believers, are called to be in a church. And a properly functioning church is to have elders to whom the church members are to exercise godly submission. Past hurts need to be prayerfully dealt with so that this submission can happen.
- If there are shepherds who are needlessly harming the sheep and causing harm and damage, then proper processes need to be worked through so as to remove such from leadership.
- Elders need to be very prayerful and careful that they do not inflict spiritual damage on a sheep through their actions. This does not mean that firmness is not part of their ministry, but it does mean that abuse is absent from the way they deal with sheep. Oh Lord make me careful in these things.