There is a sinewy connection between joy and shepherding and I regret that there are still too many occasions when the two are cut asunder. It isn’t that I lament others seeing the lack, I lament the fact of the lack. I don’t wish that I could hide my joy*less*ness better, rather I want to experience and display joy*full*ness better.
The connection between joy and shepherding is consequential. Though Hebrews 13:17 is primarily a call for the sheep to follow the shepherd in such a way that he may shepherd with joy, it establishes the principle that a joyful shepherd is an advantage to the sheep. The potent consequence of the shepherds’ rejoicing is blessing and profit for the sheep, and often I must apologize that I have not been as great an advantage to my sheep as is right.
I do recognize there are still multiple things to be thankful for even in this shortcoming. First, sheep are less likely to follow me because of me; the clouded reflection of Christ in me is a constant reminder that He is the clear goal. Second, the sheep have much opportunity to serve me in prayer, that more of Christ would be formed in me. Third, we can commiserate together toward the day of glorification, when our joyful experience of completeness in Christ will equal our status.
So as we encourage one another, build up each other, and shepherd, let us do so with the joy of the Lord as our strength. Thank you for bearing with me as I progress in the same.