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Another glorious Sunday! I was especially excited about the sermon I had prepared. I work hard on all my sermons. But this one… this one was truly special! This one was masterfully crafted, and eloquently written! This one was theologically rich! This one was pregnant with potential to challenge, convict and transform! Yes, this was to be my “sermon to end all sermons,” my homiletic-equivalent of Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa or Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel.

Apparently, however, the Lord and I were not focused on the same things. As I was about to learn, my heavenly Father was far less interested in the message I had penned than He was in the heart with which I intended to deliver it.

As I opened the service, I realized that only a handful of people had come. I began to feel discouraged and unappreciated. In my heart, I began to grumble against the flock, thinking, “Why should I work so hard on my sermons, if no one is going to show up to hear them?”

With a penetrating sermon-in-a-sentence, the Holy Spirit’s gentle whisper silenced the cries of my self-pity and pride. He said, “Remember, Niki, they’re not here for you. You’re here for them!”

As I reflect on that important lesson, I am reminded of Jesus’ thrice-repeated call to Peter, in John 21: “Feed my lambs … Take care of my sheep … Feed my sheep.” As shepherds and under-shepherds, we share Peter’s call to feed Jesus’ sheep, and to follow our Lord’s example in laying down our lives for His flock. But whenever our focus in ministry shifts from how we can meet the needs of the sheep to how they can meet our needs, or from how we can serve the sheep to how they can serve us, we begin to feed off of them, rather than feed them!

The only difference between us and the flocks we lead is that our Lord, in His grace, has placed staffs in our hands. We need our Chief Shepherd to guide us and give us His heart for His sheep every day, so that we can lead them well and feed them well.

Prayer Focus: This week, let’s pray for pastors around the world. Ask the Lord to help them keep the Great Shepherd as their primary focus. May they remember the call to feed and care for the flock of God, and be encouraged and refreshed in their hearts and ministries.

By: Niki Tshibaka, pastor at Mount Veron Foursquare Fellowship in Alexandria, Va.

pastor at Mount Veron Foursquare Fellowship in Alexandria, Va.