Shepherds are sheep-oriented. Their job is to care for sheep. That requires a lot of different skills, but more than all else it requires a heart orientation.
Modern pastors are often bogged down with administrative duties. Even if they have a heart for people, they don’t have much time or energy to focus on them. Sure, attending to the details of operating an organization can ultimately be done with the best interests of the people in mind. But all too often those who are hurting or confused or struggling are lost in the dust of committee meetings and logistics. Besides that, we have adopted a model that focuses on and requires the “pastor” to be pre-eminently a teacher (more on that in another post).
Don’t get me wrong – I know that many pastors, on top of all their other responsibilities, spend long hours in visitation and counseling. I also know that many of them are wrung out from carrying too much of a load. There is not as much of “them” available as they would desire to give to people, and not nearly enough as the people require.
Jesus was busy, but he was not need-driven. He was active, but he was not work-obsessed. As the Great Shepherd, his heart was always oriented toward his sheep. He was never bogged down by logistics, and he was never too depleted to care.
Maybe we can learn something from him.