Lessons from Pastor Milo: A Shepherd's Heart

Last week I began sharing with you some of the lessons that I learned from Pastor Milo, starting with the attitude of humility that Pastor Milo modeled. This week I would like to write about how Pastor Milo modeled a shepherd’s heart. The Biblical model for a shepherd is found in the beautiful Psalm 23 and in Jesus' analogy from John 15. However, the passage I would like to use to share what Pastor Milo taught me is found in I Peter 5:2-4 - “… shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.”

We can all think of pastors who have impacted us. They might have been great communicators, exceptionally kind and caring, or great visionaries. Those characteristics are important for any pastor, but under them all should be the heart of a shepherd. A friend of mine in Michigan who had been in ministry for over 40 years used to say, “Glyn, people won’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Pastor Milo excelled in being a shepherd of the people entrusted to his care. I count myself as part of that group who were blessed to look to him as a shepherd.

Pastors are to be under-shepherds as 1 Peter 5 states. It’s so important that pastors and congregations alike remember that it is God’s church. Look at these phrases again: “… shepherd the flock of God that is among you … And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.” Pastor Milo modeled to me the importance of holding our role as pastors lightly. I never got the impression that Pastor Milo considered that Grace Church was his church.

Pastors are to be shepherds as they lead and care for the church entrusted to them. I Peter 5: “… shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly - not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge.” A shepherd should always remember that people are important. People are more important than tasks. Pastor Milo always seemed to have time to talk. I heard so many people say at his celebration of life service that when you talked to him he made you feel as though you really matter to him.

Pastors are to be shepherds who are gentle with people. I Peter 5: “… not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.” As I have served as a pastor for over twenty years, I can see why some pastors turn into dictators. It’s not Biblical or godly for pastors to act like dictators but I can see why it happens. People can be hard to care for. Some have expectations pastors don’t even know about, let alone try to meet. Some leadership teams can be dominated by a few strong personalities, and the pastor can feel as though he’s just the hired help. I am so grateful that the example Pastor Milo left for Grace Church is that pastors can and should bless a church they are called to lead.

Please pray for me as I seek to follow the model of a shepherd that Pastor Milo left for me.