I have not run away from being your shepherd, nor have I desired the day of sickness. You know what came out of my lips, it was before your face.
You can run away from being a shepherd. It is hard, thankless work, and some sheep, like me, are stubborn! God will not hold you down and force you to do His work. But remember that you promised Him that you would take care of them. Running away takes many forms: it doesn’t have to be like Jonah. When shepherding, it can be running away like dodging the sheep, or dodging the work, dodging meetings, dodging preparations. You can easily find a good excuse. It can get so bad that you desire the day of despair, of woe, of sickness.
Remember that Christ does not run away from being the Good Shepherd. He laid His life down for the sheep, because He recognized their worth, He recognized His responsibility. When they were annoying, when it got hard, He didn’t just drop them and move on. It is the hireling who can afford to run away, who can afford to leave without regret, without thinking of what happens behind him. A true shepherd, a good shepherd stays. He gives his life. It is as much a decision as a command.
You know what came out of my lips. You know my ministry, every word I said was before your face. Whether and how I prayed for the sheep, studied before meeting them, took them seriously and aimed to please God not man, aiming for perfection not merely accolades. You know how and whether I laboured (1 Thess. 5:12), whether I served with joy and meekness of heart, being gentle like a nursing mother, exhorting, encouraging and charging like a good father….or whether I complained and muttered and was hesitant to do your work. You know. You see. You observe my attitude. And your response to me is based on that, my reward is based on your perceptions. Cursed be the man who does the work of the Lord with lax hands.