The doorbell rang at 7:30 a.m. I looked through the peephole to discover my neighbor on the other side. I opened the door, and he asked, “Are you missing a chicken?” I said yes, and he kindly replied, “She’s in my yard.”
My next question came out quickly, “Is she alive?” He assured me she was, and I breathed a sigh of relief. The day before, a coyote had tried to attack our chickens, and although a combination of our rooster, the cows grazing nearby, and my husband ran the coyote off, one hen was missing.
Lucky Duck. Alyssa’s favorite.
I had spent the night praying that Lucky Duck would come home. I know it’s crazy but I was so afraid Alyssa would be crushed. After I found out she was alive, I breathed a prayer of thanks.
My mind kept going back to my rooster, though. Blackie had gotten in between Lucky Duck and the coyote and had lost most of his long feathers, though he was unharmed. This was the second time he protected his hens from a coyote, risking his life for theirs.
Although I have a love-hate relationship with Blackie – he once attacked Drew and has even come after me a couple of times – I have a great admiration for his relationship with the hens.
When I feed the chickens, he’s always the first to come, yet he backs away and doesn’t eat himself until the hens have gotten to the food and have begun eating. (True gentleman.) When we let the chickens free-range, he has a careful eye on his surroundings, watching for threats. If a hen strays from the others, he leaves the flock to go get her. If a person approaches, he positions himself between the hens and the human.
Because my mind tends to gravitate toward finding life lessons in everything, I started considering the similarities between my rooster and his hens and pastors and their congregations.
Among other roles, pastors are biblically charged with protecting their “flock” like a shepherd protects the sheep.
Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them (Acts 20:28-30).
When my chickens aren’t free-ranging, the rooster’s job is pretty easy. The chickens are protected from the world, yet they are pinned up, restricted from doing what they were made to do.
But when they free-range, everything changes.
In today’s world of technology, a pastor’s congregation is constantly free-ranging. We listen to sermons online and watch speakers at conferences. We read blogs and research our Bible questions on Google. We listen to podcasts and have devotionals delivered to our inboxes.
And I think that’s a good thing. I am hearing the Word through these avenues and hearing others’ perspectives on issues I hadn’t considered. I can research questions on my own if I come upon a perplexing text in Scripture. God has gifted many in our generation with communicating his truth.
But there’s also this other side. Many communicators seek to deceive or they twist Scripture to suit their purposes. Just a few weeks ago I was researching a subject and found a site full of Scripture references that were twisted to refute the reality of hell. Now, that’s getting into dangerous territory.
I think a pastor’s job of protecting his flock from heresy is harder than ever in this regard. Unlike my rooster, he can’t see where all of his hens are going to free-range. He can’t protect every threat that may enter our minds and hearts.
Yet his commission remains to protect his flock.
What does that mean for us, the flock under our pastor’s (or pastors’) care?
- Understand that your pastor is your pastor. Although we may hear messages from gifted communicators, they are not with us, living life alongside us. They aren’t holding us accountable, and we aren’t keeping them in check. But our pastor is given to us by God to lead us, to hold us accountable, and to shepherd us.
- Go to your pastor with questions. If you hear something in a podcast or see something online or in Scripture that doesn’t quite make sense, ask your pastor for guidance or a reputable resource you can explore. I have gone to my pastor several times with biblical questions and he is always willing and ready to assist me. Of course, keep in mind his busy schedule and be patient if he can’t get back with you immediately.
- Realize that you may not always see eye to eye with your pastor. And that’s okay. I’m sure none of us has the same viewpoint on everything. Most peripheral issues are best left alone. But if a topic is of concern, pray about going to your pastor about it. Communicate with him. I’ve found that if I didn’t agree with my pastor, once I heard him out, I understood him and his point of view better. Having an open, unconditional brotherly love with our pastor is much more important than agreeing on everything.
- Cut him some slack. Being a pastor is hard. And add in today’s millions of opinions, along with his passion for God, the gospel, and the flock entrusted to him, he’s got one tough job. Appreciate that no matter how far we stray, he’s always there to protect us, guide us, and bring us safely back to the flock.
A few weeks ago my rooster attacked me as I was going to feed the chickens. After two bleeding bruises and a picture of my injured leg posted on Facebook, many suggested that we have fried chicken for dinner.
But the truth is, I’m ever-grateful for Blackie. He does his job. He protects his hens. He has risked his life for them and would die for them.
Just as my pastor would do for his flock. Of that I am certain and grateful.
Thank your pastor this week.
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