During these days of COVID-19, online services and Bible studies, and social distancing, group leaders must serve their groups well in one way if they truly care for them. I wrote about this in my book Three Roles for Guiding Groups available from Lifeway.
Shepherding is one of the oldest professions in the world. It is first mentioned in Genesis 4:2 in regards to Abel. Shepherding language influenced biblical writers:
- God is referred to as a shepherd (Psalm 78:52)
- Leaders of God’s people were described as shepherds (I Kings 22:17)
- Jesus called himself a shepherd (Luke 12:32)
- Jesus called himself the Good Shepherd (John 10:10ff)
- Psalm 23 uses shepherd imagery throughout
Amos 3:12 is a prophetic verse, but embedded in it is a little-known fact about shepherds. That little-known fact is vitally important to group leaders everywhere today. Amos 3:12 says:
12 This is what the Lord says:
“As a shepherd rescues from the lion’s mouth
only two leg bones or a piece of an ear,
so will the Israelites living in Samaria be rescued,
with only the head of a bed
and a piece of fabric from a couch.”
Why would a shepherd wrestle away a piece of a dead sheep from a predator? The answer: the shepherd is not the owner. The shepherd works for a master, and is accountable to him for each sheep entrusted to him.
As group leaders today, you and I are temporary shepherds/stewards of God’s people, His sheep. He’s the Owner/Master, not us. We are responsible for the sheep he temporarily gives us to shepherd. Therefore, we must watch them carefully, love them, and protect them – especially during the isolation taking place during COVID-19 “shelter in place” days.