I received a phone call from a woman who had recently begun attending the church I was pastoring. Even though I barely knew her, I could tell over the phone that she sounded distraught. She asked if she could come over and talk—like, right now. I said absolutely.

Within the hour, she was seated across from me in my study, obviously emotional. Her husband had just been diagnosed with a terminal condition. Here’s the catch: They were between churches (for valid reasons).

After her gut-wrenching sharing of her husband’s situation, she asked this simple, humble, beautiful question: “I don’t have a shepherd right now. Will you be one for me?”

God’s people instinctively know they need a shepherd.

God knows it (Jer. 23:4; Matt. 2:6).

Jesus knows it (Matt. 9:36; John 10:11).

King David certainly knew it (Psalm 23).

The apostle Paul knew it (Acts 20:28).

The apostle Peter knew it (1 Peter 5).

The woman in my study that day knew it.

While Jesus is indeed the Good Shepherd, “small s” shepherds are one of the great gifts given to the church (Eph. 4:11) because God’s people need undershepherds. They always have and always will until the physical presence of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, is our reality.

We were created for communion with God, but sin has broken down that communion. We are all like sheep gone astray; like King David, we need a good shepherd to guide us to still waters of communion with our Creator.

This is the great high calling of a shepherd: to be there for God’s people. To help them see, know, trust, and love God even in the face of terminal diagnoses. Pray with them in the Spirit, counsel them in wisdom and the Word, encourage them in holy promises, and love them in the faith.

It was my joy to shepherd that woman (and her husband) in the subsequent months, to walk with them through the experiences that come in these situations. We are eternal beings with a soul so precious to God that He gave His only Son’s life to rescue us. Truly, shepherding is a holy and precious endeavor.

God’s people know they need a shepherd. Be a good one, and pay attention to the flock God has entrusted you.

Pastor Peter gave us this great promise: “When the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory” (1 Peter 5:4 ESV). An eternal crown, shining and glorious, awaits those who are His under-shepherds on this side of eternity. There is glory in the grind awaiting you.

Be encouraged, and be a good shepherd. The woman needing to come to talk with you needs you to be one. Be there for her.



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