Here is an excerpt from Discipling the Flock, by Paul Tautges. This book lays a solid, biblical foundation for understanding the unique role of shepherds as they care for the people of God. Shepherd Press is thankful to offer this excellent resource to the church.
“Authentic biblical shepherding requires a personal commitment to do all that is superhumanly possible to help fellow believers grow to maturity in Jesus Christ. This is accomplished by means of instruction and correction according to His power, which mightily works within the shepherd and his sheep by the Holy Spirit sent from God. God’s vision of discipleship, therefore, requires that we recognize this process as a stewardship from Him entailing intensive labor on behalf of others within the mutual experience of suffering in a sin-sick world. Consequently, we must be committed to Christ-centered ministry that continually builds believers on the solid foundation of His wisdom—God’s truth applied to life. To accomplish this, we must depend on the life-changing power of the Holy Spirit as we struggle toward the goal of being conformed ourselves, and conforming others, to the image of Jesus Christ…
“The first element is the price that we must be willing to pay to be ministers of God. ‘Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body, which is the church, in filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions’ (v. 24). Paul believed that the price of authentic ministry is a willingness to endure suffering on behalf of others. This requires attachment to people. It demands that pastors and elders be involved in others’ lives far beyond preaching and teaching to them each Sunday. It discourages us from keeping a distance from our people, especially from those we may consider to be “needy” disciples who require a large investment of time and energy. In Rediscovering Pastoral Ministry, Lance Quinn makes a case for this to his fellow ministers:
“‘Our role as pastors also demands that we be disciple-makers. We cannot be pulpiteers who preach at our people but have no involvement in their lives. The process only begins with the proclamation of Scripture. It finds its real fruition across the entire spectrum of the shepherd’s work—feeding, leading, cleaning, bandaging, protecting, nurturing, and every other aspect of a tender shepherd’s loving care. This is the process of discipling.’
“This vital connection to the lives of people is often birthed out of the common grounds of pain and suffering. In Paul’s case, he was writing from a prison in Rome. Epaphras had traveled there to visit him and to report on the progress of the believers in Asia Minor. No doubt Paul was encouraged to learn of the Colossians’ ‘love in the Spirit’ (1:8), but he was also concerned to hear how the heresies of Gnosticism were drawing these Christians away from the reality of the fullness of their new life in Christ (2:1–3). Therefore, he wrote his letter and sent it to them by his ‘fellow bond-servant in the Lord,’ Tychicus (4:7). But in spite of ‘the daily pressure on [him] of concern for all the churches’ (of which he testified in 2 Cor. 11:28), Paul rejoiced in his suffering because he knew that it stimulated growth in others.”