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Shepherding Ministry: Priorities

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Shepherding Ministry PrioritiesThree times Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him.  Three times Peter responded that he did to which Jesus told him to feed His sheep.

In a previous post we looked at how different Greek words were used for “love” in John 21:15-17, pointing to our motivations.  And in another post, we saw that two different Greek words were used for sheep … little lambs, sheep … indicating that those whom He entrusts to our care will be at different levels in their spiritual growth which must be taken into consideration when shepherding them.  Here we will make some conclusions about the priorities of a shepherding ministry by noting that two different Greek words are used for tending to the sheep.

v. 15 –  “feed [bosko] my lambs”
v. 16 –  “take care of [poimen] my sheep”
v. 17 –  “feed [bosko] my sheep”

The word “bosko,” which was used twice, alludes primarily to providing nourishment.  “Poimen” includes feeding but goes broader to overall care and is the same word used in 1 Peter 5 for shepherding.

Why didn’t Jesus use the same word, “bosko,” all three times for added emphasis? Maybe He wanted to communicate that the flock needs more than feeding.  They need to be protected and sometimes rescued.  They need to be cared for when injured and comforted when afraid.  Click on the link below to learn more about the needs of sheep and the implications for shepherding them.

Shepherding Ministry Duties

Why didn’t Jesus just use the word “poimen” all three times since it includes feeding? Jesus could be stressing the priority of feeding the sheep.  Overseeing the flock is important but of prime importance is feeding the flock.  Perhaps this is why one of the qualifications for leaders is to be able to teach (1 Tim. 3:2).  Remember, teaching is not limited to the pulpit or classroom.  There are many ways to teach (feed) others.

Feeding is a top priority because:

  • People need to become thoroughly equipped for every good work which comes through the Word. (2 Tim. 3:16-17)
  • People need to learn to distinguish good from evil which requires constancy in feeding on the meat of the Word. (Heb. 5:14)

The more equipped and discerning people are, the better they are prepared to meet the demands of this life and be light and salt in this world.  Anemic believers do little to advance the cause of Christ. They are too weak and lethargic.  So, feed them. Tend to other needs as well. And, feed them some more.  Feeding must be a regular occurrence.  Feeding must get beyond the milk (basics) to the meat of the Word.

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5 Replies to “Shepherding Ministry: Priorities”

  1. Thank you for all this information. I am not a pastor of a church. But I believe God calls all to minister to others. I have a bible study in my house with a few women and I know it is growing. I really like reading your material. I believe it will help me as I am out there helping others to know how God looks at things and feeding his sheep is important. Lord help me as I follow your word and your plan in my life. i know you have a ministry right where I am at right now and it is growing. I thank you that all the seats are already filled in my house for our bible study. Thank you for this information that can be helpful in my ministry that you are planting in my life as I speak.

    • I praise God for your encouraging words, Debra. It is always good to learn what God is doing. You are so right that God calls all of us to minister to others. Just consider all the one another commands of Scripture. And, you don’t have to be a pastor to be involved in shepherding ministry. What you are doing most certainly is a wonderful way to invest into the lives of others in these ways.

  2. What an awesome lesson in that passage of Scripture that is absolutely only dealt with in terms of love–I certainly never thought about the feeding, or the sheep/lambs, but when broken down it provides so much more understanding of the roles that we all have as “able ministers of the reconciliation”. I will definitely pass this information along to others, as I am sure it will bless them, too! Thank you!!!

    • You are welcome, Lisa. And, thank you for passing it along to others. God’s Word is so rich. The same passage looked at from different angles can have so much meat. Truly it is the inspired Word of God!

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