I am a shepherd, called of God.
Keep in mind that the Lord called people like Peter and even Judas into discipleship. The former finally took the right path, while the latter failed. Had Judas not betrayed the Lord, Satan could have easily found someone else to do it. A betrayal was in God’s plans. Satan serves God, and God’s will has never been frustrated. The work of the Lord gets done one way or another, and we are granted opportunities to go along for the ride as children, hired servants or slaves.
As a shepherd, I confess that all the good in my life is all the work of the Lord. I’m just one of His children, along for the ride, permitted to watch His handiwork up close and personal. I’m allowed to see some of what’s involved behind the scenes on the moral and spiritual level of operations.
I don’t get to decide much more than whether I will go along with the plan or be excluded because I’m too pig-headed. Let me assure you, I’ve been pig-headed all too often. I’ve got lots of moral scars on my soul, and I’ve left even more on the souls of others. I marvel at the patience of the Lord.
In no uncertain terms He has ordered me to make room for the Peters and Judases of this world in my ministry. From where I stand, I must regard everyone as having the potential to see the Lord on their own terms. I have no input at all on whether He’ll use the people I encounter. The only certain duty I have regarding that is discerning whether I am supposed to work with them or not. Some very good and faithful servants of God have no business serving alongside me, and vice versa.
I am under no obligation to any shrieking harpies to make room in my ministry for someone who is a bad fit. And I am under no obligation to exclude someone who happens to make an associate uncomfortable. Every day, a primary obligation to the Lord is for people to decide whether they can keep working in a certain context or not. This flux and flow of souls coming and going within a particular ministry from the Lord is the norm. It is a critical part of the divine plan of Christ for His Body.
That’s because, in the long run, this life does not matter. Our pitiful efforts to make things happen in this world will never amount to anything. It is always the hand of God. It is always God using us or letting us run down some path of senseless distraction. We only get so far down the wrong path before His wrath on sin starts to shred us. This is what we count on in dealing with those we serve who don’t seem to understand what’s going on.
Sometimes I am commanded to speak about these things. Yes, that means criticizing others, at times. The crux of the issue is declaring what my God has told me. Whether they listen is another matter; I have no authority to enforce anything except within the domain God has granted me. And it has nothing to do with whether they are faithfully serving the Lord in one way or another.
Today I won’t be naming names, but there are people out there who really do not get this shepherd thing. They claim Christ as their Master, but their choices reflect very poorly on Him, from where I’m standing. It has nothing to do with whether they’ll succeed in worldly terms. But some of these folks have huge gaps in their ministries, showing a very bad attitude toward folks whom God has not yet equipped to match some imaginary ideal.
Judas would have come across as a very strong and decisive leader, someone who knew how to get things done. Peter would come across as a blowhard, always concerned about the wrong things. Both suffered from a disability of sorts, things that hindered their moral and spiritual development. It won’t matter whether we want to suggest it was their fault or not; that isn’t the question. The question was whether the Lord intended to heal them and use them. So the second question we immediately ask is how the Lord wants us to participate in their growth.
It’s quite true that I can’t help everyone, but that’s no reason to proclaim them useless to God. They may not fit into my ministry, but they are free to try, until such time as their choices threaten what I’m called to do. At that point, all we really need is distance between each other. They’ll go with my blessings, and I mean carrying those blessings. The greatest miracle has always been a changed life.
But God doesn’t need my permission to call them, and vice versa.