Tend Your Sheep
Sometimes you just have to laugh at the devil. He is so painfully obvious. Like how the dryer goes out on a Monday morning when you are already a week behind on laundry. Then, when you get in the car to take the load of wet clothes (which just happen to be all of the work clothes you own) to use the dryers at the laundromat, you get a dashboard light warning of two low tires, low fuel and you have an hour and a half to be at work. That is the kind of thing he can use to get you riled up and self-focused if you let him.
But as it turns out, I like the laundromat. The laundromat is a wonderful place to ponder. What else is there to do? I have always been amazed at the efficiency of the machines that can wash a load in 20 minutes. As I sit there, I share a dream with Tracy Turnblad's mom* of owning a coin-operated laundromat someday.
I would put in a snack bar, have free coffee, tables for people to sit down at, visit, study, journal or play cards. I would have karaoke nights and board game tournaments. I think I could tend my sheep quite well with such a set up.
Tending my sheep: My people and my calling. Follow me across the pasture on this little metaphor and I will try not to beat it to death with a rod or a staff.Scripture is full of references of us sheep and of our Father, the Good Shepherd. We are in His service and are therefore called to tend His sheep. In John 21:15-17, we see Jesus' conversation with Peter. Christ is reminding Peter what it is to truly love Him. Essentially, tend His sheep and follow Him.
When I think about tending sheep, I must first think of my own relationship with the Good Shepherd. I must have a humble, loving and teachable spirit toward Him and those He has purposed in my life to tend me. I think of my quiet time, time spent in His Word, time in prayer, time of confession and repentance, time just thinking about Him and wondering over Him. Time as we search my heart together and I call on Him to mold me and make me into who He has called me to be and to serve well those whom He has called me to serve.
Have I been tending to that? These times are both intentional and stolen. Stolen back from the devil even as I find myself sitting at the laundromat again on a Sunday night, at peace with an inconvenience that actually bought me more time with Jesus and more time to think about His sheep He has entrusted to me. This time I share with Him is so important -- I cannot forget that. After all, I am a sheep too -- His sheep (John 10, 1 Peter 5:5, Psalms 51:17).
Tending my sheep also pertains to fulfilling the call of my life to share the Gospel, with a special focus on the people I am called to serve with. Coming beside them and walking them home, being real and vulnerable with each other, sharing with them who Christ is and how they can know Him (Matthew 28:18-20, James 5:16).
Tending my sheep, my herd, my little lambs -- my family. They are my responsibility, a gift, and I love them (Proverbs 31, Ephesians 6:2-3).
Tending my sheep is serving my local church and my community.
Tending my sheep is taking care of my profession, business and my home so that I can serve efficiently in other areas. It is becoming a master of my craft and the call of my vocation to the glory of the Father who gave me these specific gifts and opportunities (Proverbs 27:23-27).
Tending my sheep is also, "Other duties as assigned". I think of Colossians 3:23-24:
"Whatever you do [whatever your task may be], work from the soul [that is, put in your very best effort], as [something done] for the Lord and not for men, knowing [with all certainty] that it is from the Lord [not from men] that you will receive the inheritance which is your [greatest] reward. It is the Lord Christ whom you [actually] serve" (AMP).
Tending my sheep is not taking on so many projects, hobbies and activities that I am distracted. It is quite possible there is much more to running a coin-operated laundromat than I expect. Yes, it would be nice to take some lessons in this or that to hone particular skills, hobbies and interests, but in doing so would I be tending sheep that are not mine?
Would I be preventing myself from carrying out my calling in some way, or someone else from stepping into their call? How can I help them find their own sheep and guide them to their place of service?
It is nice to have these stolen moments to really stop and ask: Am I tending His sheep well? What do my sheep need right now? Are there any people I feel the Lord is urging me to check in on?
In this moment, I will switch my six loads of laundry, share the Scripture I just came across with my friend and see where that takes us, and I will tend my sheep.