Since we all know that Jesus didn’t keep a flock of actual sheep that he expected Peter to feed and water daily, we understand that He was referring to us, his church, as his sheep.Taking the metaphor a step further, Jesus was talking about nourishing our spirits, not making us sandwiches once a week! (I did work with a pastor once who held a weekly hot-dog bash in a local low-income housing unit. The idea – fill their bellies while you feed their spirits – was a great one. However, not once, in the six months that we worked with that particular church, did he ever get around to the spirit part.)
Anyway – back on point. “Feed my sheep.” It should be a simple enough thing for a pastor to do. After all, we’re called by God himself right? I’m sure you’ve heard it said plenty of times, “God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips those He calls.” (That came from 1 Samuel 16:6-13 – God didn’t choose the “most obviously qualified” candidate. He chose the boy with the purest heart and gave him what he needed to do the job.) So, laying out the timeline, God calls us to be pastors. He tells us to feed His sheep and then He gives us what we need to do the job. With all of this heavenly help and direction, why is it then, that so many daily devotionals that I see coming out of various ministries are nothing more than breath mints instead of meat and potatoes?
The scary trend that I’m seeing quite frequently is more “Give them a tic tac because I’m too busy to give them a meal and they won’t take the time to eat it even if I do” than “feeding the sheep.” There are several sites that I used to check daily for my own spiritual fill-ups. I say used to because half of them went the breath mint way. One scripture verse with no commentary and no hints as to how it should be applied to my own walk or life was all I got. If I wanted nothing more than a random Scripture verse thrown at me, I would just open any one of my bibles to a random page!
You think I’m kidding? Checking the breath mint sites today, I get …
- Joshua 1:8
- 2 Corinthians 4:18
- Psalm 34:10
While these are all wonderful Scriptures, they are only snippets of the story and with no context or explanation, we readers have no hints as to how they apply to us and our lives.
Take the first one for example.
Breath mint version: Joshua 1:8 – “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”
Full meal version: Read Joshua 1:1-9. It is the story of God commissioning Joshua to take Moses’ place as the leader after Moses died. The passage says that God told Joshua not to be frightened or dismayed because He would be with him wherever he went. This tells me that Joshua was pretty intimidated with the job before him and God was reassuring him that He wouldn’t leave him to do it alone. A big job that seems more than we can handle … that’s something we can all relate to. Being told that God will be with us every step of the way (refer back to God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips those He calls) is something we can all take comfort in. If the task ahead of you looks too overwhelming, take heart. You’re not tackling it alone.
It took me 54 seconds longer to read the full passage and the “this is how it applies to you” than it did the to read the first Scripture snippet. To me, 54 seconds is certainly worth a lifetime of understanding. How about you?
In my ministry, my life and this blog, if I have nothing with meat to share, I refuse to throw you a breath mint and try to convince you (or myself) that it’s a full meal. I would rather say nothing at all than give you less than my best.