Gen 33:12 And he said, Let us take our journey, and let us go, and I will go before thee.
Gen 33:13 And he said unto him, My lord knoweth that the children are tender, and the flocks and herds with young are with me: and if men should overdrive them one day, all the flock will die.
Gen 33:14 Let my lord, I pray thee, pass over before his servant: and I will lead on softly, according as the cattle that goeth before me and the children be able to endure, until I come unto my lord unto Seir.
There is a great spiritual truth contained in these verses for every man who has been called to be an overseer of the church, the flock of God. Israel is returning now to Bethel at God’s bidding, after fleeing to Haran and serving Laban for fourteen years. He is very fearful for his life because he had stole Isaac’s blessing from his brother Esau, and he knew that his brother hated him.
if men should overdrive them one day, all the flock will die.
To his surprise, Esau greeted him with tears of joy, glad to see his brother after so many years. God had also done a great work of grace in the heart of Israel also and as they meet together on Israel’s return, Israel utters some words that reveal a great truth concerning shepherding and pastoring. Esau urges Jacob to return with him with haste, but Jacob knows, being a shepherd, that his children, cattle, and flocks can only go so fast. He knows that if he drives them too fast many will perish in the wilderness. Therefore, he responds to his brother’s request by saying in Gen 33:14 Let my lord, I pray thee, pass over before his servant: and I will lead on softly, according as the cattle that goeth before me and the children be able to endure,”. Note these valuable truths:
- THE NEED FOR COMPASSIONATE LEADERSHIP– What a valuable truth for every pastor. Our people do not need someone to drive them, but to lead them. To lead with compassion, to lead with understanding of their limitations. I have seen firsthand, the destruction that can occur when someone is driven, rather than led by spiritual leadership. It can quickly cause one to make shipwreck of their faith and never become the fruitful Christian that God wills for their life.
- THE NEED FOR CONSISTENT LEADERSHIP– If Jacob would have listened to his brother, he would have gotten caught up in the excitement and driven his flocks to their death. As pastors, we must not allow ourselves to get caught up in the excitement of ministry. We have vision, we have expectations, we have goals; but if we are not careful, we can destroy rather than build lives for the glory of God. God called us to build lives, not buildings! Remember that! Don’t make your people expendable to your personal desires. The people should BE your desire. Recognize that each of us have a fallen nature and that some will not grow as fast as others. Don’t get caught up in “keeping up with the Jones” by comparing yourself with other ministries that may be further along than you. Determine to be a faithful pastor and lead the flock that God has given to you. The grass is not always greener on the other side.
May God help us as pastors to take note of this great truth and determine to lead on softly and let God get the glory.