Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them – not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. - 1 Peter 5:2-3
OK, fellow shepherds: this one’s for you. Here’s my question to you today: in these days of COVID, how are you being an example to your flock?
This can mean many different things: the way you are an example of hygiene or of taking proper precautions for the sake of the health and wellbeing of the flock around you.
It can be the way you are an example of creativity and patience in the face of having so much of what we enjoy being diminished, changed or even going away altogether and finding new ways to have your flock enjoy their lives in these challenging times.
It could be the way you’ve had to readjust to caring for an aging parent that you can’t see as often as you used to, or how you do that at home if they are living with you when our ability to have visitation or go out is severely limited.
Maybe it is how so many of you have turned into teachers and educators at home for the children of your flock, and have had to make sacrifices to be so for their sakes.
Perhaps it is how you’ve had to reinvent the way that you do your job or provide for your flock.
Whatever it may be, acting as an example for our flocks is part of our work each and every day. Particularly doing it as it is put forward in this passage from I Peter: being an example not because we have to, but because we are willing to. Being so not for dishonest gain for our own selfish ends, but because we have hearts eager to be in service for our fellow neighbors. Living lives of loving example and service not to hold it over the heads of others who’s care is entrusted to us, but rather to live as the example itself for its own sake.
This is what it was to be a shepherd of God’s flock under someone’s care back in the days of the early church not too many years after Jesus’ death. It remains what it is to be a shepherd over 2,000 years later.
So the question remains as true today as it did back then: how are you being an example to your flock?
Nurturing God, grant us the vision and discernment of our faith to know how to be the best shepherds for our flocks that we can be.