Shepherd Toward Spiritual Maturity
Elk are incredible animals. I have spent the better part of 25 years watching, studying and hunting them. In my opinion, they are one of God’s greatest creations, and not a year goes by that they do not teach me something new about God, His creation and even myself.
The fifth essential in a disciple making church is to shepherd people toward spiritual maturity. Believe it or not, one year while bow hunting, a cow elk taught me a tremendous amount about shepherding people.
I was pressing through some of the most awful brush that the North Idaho forest has to offer. While grunting, climbing, groaning and whining out loud, I stumbled across a huge heard that had been using the brush field for cover. Instantly, the elk I walked up on bolted in every direction. I could not see them, but brush shook and snapped all around me as the heard scattered. Instinctively, I stopped and put my elk call in my mouth. I began to call out as if I were a lost calf elk, pleading for the heard to come back and save me. To my surprise, a huge cow elk came running toward me. It was then I observed nature at its finest. This cow elk did all she could to find me and shepherd me back to the heard. She called to me, circled me, and tried to find me, convinced that I was a poor little calf lost in the brush. She stomped her hoof, trying to ward off predators, and beckoned me to fall in beside her. She was being a shepherd. Not until I literally waved my arms at her did she give up and run back to the heard.
When I think of that cow elk, I am reminded of shepherding in the church. Jesus is the great shepherd, and in Scripture we are taught that every believer should shepherd others toward spiritual maturity. In the church, we are to look through a lens that causes us to see people with the same care and concern that Jesus does. The elk provides a great analogy for us. We must first understand that people’s spiritual health and safety are under our care. We are to encourage each other daily (Hebrews 3:12-14). Unfortunately, we sometimes view maturity as education or Bible knowledge. Bible knowledge is great, but sometimes Christians know a great deal, yet apply very little.
Discipleship is a process where we follow the Holy Spirit’s leading as we press each other on to be more like Christ. We are to take knowledge from Scripture and live it out in real life, learning to love as Jesus loves and care as He cares. We go after the strays, much like the elk pursing one that might be separated from the herd. Whether you are a pastor, an elder, or a small group leader, if you are a Christ follower you are called to help people grow in their spiritual maturity. Without this essential in the church we can never remain on the tracks leading to Spiritual growth.
- Who am I discipling toward spiritual maturity?
- How do I need to grow in my own spiritual maturity?