In order for a shepherd to effectively care for his sheep, there must be trust. That trust is born of familiarity, and proximity. There must be a physical presence and a presence of heart.

The Great Shepherd said that his sheep follow him because they know his voice. They know it because they have heard it constantly, consistently. They have heard it when they were hungry, when the were scared, when they were lost. Their trust is not based upon hearsay; they trust him because they have personally experienced his loving care.

If they are ever separated from their shepherd, their recognition of and response to his voice is imperative for their survival.

A stranger does not share the same bond of trust. They will not respond to his calls if they are lost. They will not be reassured when they are in danger, nor will they heed his warnings if danger is imminent. They simply will not follow one who’s voice is unfamiliar.

To be an effective shepherd of missionaries, there must be a conviction of their part of your caring heart. If you are offering care simply because it is your job, don’t expect good results. If you expect them to follow you because they’ve been told they must, don’t be surprised if they take it upon themselves to find greener pastures.