Hebrews 13:17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are watching over your souls, as those who will have to give an account.
The Lord has entrusted to his servants, the spiritual responsibility to watch over the souls of his people. The call to be a shepherd of God’s people is a high and holy calling and is to be taken very seriously. What does it mean to watch over the souls of God’s people?
To watch over the souls of God’s people is to continually point them to Jesus Christ the Chief Shepherd. He saves, sustains, and leads. God’s people should not be ultimately dependent on the earthly shepherd. They should be dependent on the Chief Shepherd.
To watch over the souls of God’s people is to feed them the Word of God. The shepherd is to feed the people what sustains them. He is to feed them what they need when they need it.
To watch over the souls of God’s people is encourage them to keep on keeping on. The world is a discouraging place and the darkness of it can be overwhelming. The shepherd continually shines light on the path and leads God’s people to endure.
To watch over the souls of God’s people is to correct error and rebuke of wrongdoing when necessary. If a sheep is wandering toward peril the earthly shepherd can lead back to the right path. Passively permitting a sheep to walk off of a cliff is not watching over their souls.
To watch over the souls of God’s people is to ready the people of God to walk through the valley of the shadow of death, and be there with them when they do. All people have an inevitable encounter with the valley of the shadow of death. If they find their hope in God, they will not fear it but will walk in faith and dependence on him.
To watch over the souls of God’s people is to anticipate and prepare for the account which will one day be given to the Chief Shepherd. The thought of appearing before him, and answering for his sheep is a humbling one! God help us to faithfully discharge our duties. Help us to love your sheep as you have loved us. Help us to feed your sheep as you have fed us. Help us to lead your sheep as you have led us.
I Peter 5:1-4 To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder and a witness of Christ’s sufferings who also will share in the glory to be revealed:Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve;not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.