by DanWolgemuth on September 6, 2013

Several months ago a good friend of mine let me know that he and his family would be out of town for a few weeks. He needed me to check on his house while they were gone, to make sure plants were well watered, and that the grass was properly mowed, and that everything was in order.

On the night that I drove my friends to the Denver Airport I felt something welling up in me… it was a sense of responsibility. It was a desire to deliver on the expectation given to me. What I wanted eclipsed my own schedule or agenda… I wanted to protect, guide, care for, and steward both the home and the trust that had been given to me.

During one of my visits to the house to mow, I spent time on my hands and knees trimming and plucking weeds and giving the house my very best… not because it’s mine, but because it’s not. I made a commitment; the fulfillment of that promise brings me joy. I’m not pruning my own property; I’m nurturing someone else’s. Honestly, that changes a lot.

During one of the final personal rendezvous that Jesus had with several of His disciples He specifically spoke into the life of Peter, and at the same time His words are like a megaphone into my own soul.

The Gospel of John, chapter 21, chronicles this exchange. Three times Jesus asks Peter if he loves Him. Each time Peter’s affirmation is met with an instruction. These instructions are:

  • Feed my lambs.
  • Tend my lambs.
  • Feed my sheep.

Quite frankly, I’ve spent a lot of time trying to unpack the meaning and significance of feeding and tending. I’ve looked into the nuances of sheep and lambs. But what I have significantly downplayed is the notion that Jesus makes it clear that these are HIS sheep. They belong to Him.

We are stewards, not owners. We are invited into the privileged space of caretaking and protecting.

This reality changes everything… starting with how I pray for individuals in my life. I’m not introducing these individuals to Jesus… He created them. He cares for them. He loves them. No, I’m letting Jesus know that I’m doing my best to feed and tend and protect and correct and mentor and coach and advocate for the lambs in my care.

These are His lambs. When I love His sheep then my heart is knotted with His heart.

Mine. Jesus says mine. My sheep. My lambs. His.

Ownership gives way to stewardship and the community of followers becomes a powerful force for good and justice and righteousness and courage and love… because we are His.

Yes, tend and feed sheep, not because they’re mine, but because they’re not.

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