I need this reminder as much as anyone.
I’m finding it easy to get distracted with the news and controversy. Never before in history have we had so much information available to us, and most of it is unhelpful. A lot of it is downright dangerous.
Last weekend, I came across another controversy and felt myself getting sucked in. I needed the reminder of 1 Peter 5:2: “Shepherd the flock of God that is among you.”
I’m a shepherd of a particular flock. God has given me, along with other elders, oversight of that congregation. That’s my charge. I don’t need to get involved with every issue out there. I need to care for the people entrusted to me. Sometimes the best thing we can do is turn off social media and news sites and serve the people God’s given to us.
I’m primarily a local church pastor, entrusted with a particular group of people in a particular place. That matters more than getting distracted with issues that don’t affect my local congregation.
I’m not arguing that we isolate ourselves. I’m arguing that we need to guard our focus and strategically engage with issues outside of our main focus carefully and deliberately. We probably need feedback from others to help us gauge our extracurricular activities.
Pastor: curate your attention. Choose old books over new tweets. Block divisive people on social media. Work through the names of actual people who are part of your church, and pray for them. Hang their pictures over your desk as you study. Choose soul-nourishing spiritual food instead of a fast-food diet of online agitation.
Walk the streets of your community. Put your phone on airplane mode. Leave it at home. Root yourself in the terroir of your particular location.
Take the advice of Spurgeon:
Do not consider yourself to be the bishop of all the neighboring churches, but be satisfied with looking after Lystra, or Derbe, or Thessalonica, or whichever church may have been allotted to your care, and leave Philippi and Ephesus in the hands of their own pastors … When you meet your brother ministers do not be in a hurry to advise them; they know their duty quite as well as you know yours, and your judgment upon their course of action is probably founded upon partial information supplied from prejudiced sources. Do not grieve your neighbors by your meddlesomeness. We have all enough to do at home, and it is prudent to keep out of all disputes which do not belong to us.
“Many a trifling difference within a church has been fanned into a great flame by ministers outside who had no idea of the mischief they were causing,” Spurgeon said. If that was true then, it’s even truer in this social media age.
Shepherd the flock that’s among you, and happily ignore those who are causing controversy elsewhere. Starve their fires of oxygen while you love and serve the church that God has entrusted to your care.