"Know well the condition of your flocks, give attention to your herds."
Many long ages ago I graduated from high school. I went to a Christian school, so when I graduated I was asked to choose a text for the graduation ceremony. Well, this proverb was the text I chose. I chose it because it fit well with my chosen profession; dairy farming. It may have not been the best text to graduate with, but it does teach us much about how God desires us to work in our professions.
While the text is directed to those who work with animals, the principle can be applied to every job and activity. Colossians 3:23 says, "What ever you do, work heartily as for the Lord and not for men." This proverbs helps us understand how we can work heartily as we serve Jesus Christ so that He is pleased. Let us examine the text as it relates to caring for animals.
I have a book which takes the principle in this proverb and applies it to dairy farming. The book would explain this text very well. It is important when we care for animals to observe what is going on in the herd. We are to look at the group as well as the individual. Our sight, smell, and hearing are all to be constantly used to monitor what is going on among the animals. Our observation should then lead to asking why? Why is this happening or occurring? When we know why, then we can find a solution to the problem. For example: We need to examine the cow's coat, how she walks, and how she stands. Her eyes will tell you about her health. Is she chewing her cud? How is her breathing? We should be aware of when she calved or when she was bred. Is the cow fat or thin? When we understand how the animals are doing, we can take care of them better. This takes time, effort, and care. But it is important, "for riches do not last forever." (Verse 24a). If we neglect to take care of our animals, they will be in poor condition. Shoddy management ruins the herd or flock. The performance of the herd will decrease and eventually the farm will not profit us. Wealth in the days of ancient Israel was in livestock. So this wealth needed wise and careful management, otherwise a farmer would become poorer and poorer without even enough food to feed his family.
Most people don't work with animals. But the truth in this proverb still applies. Paying close attention to the details will help you do your work well. If you are a parent, it is important to understand your children. Know their differences. Watch carefully their behavior so you can instruct, rebuke, or correct. If you are a carpenter, make sure your work is quality work. Measure twice and cut once. Think about how this proverb can apply to the responsibilities that God has given you.
I wish all elders/pastors would consider this proverb. When I chose this verse for grad, I was told that this was a verse for pastors. That is true although, not in the primary understanding but in its application. If we had more elders who cared about God's flock like some farmers care about their cows, our churches would be much healthier and more effective. The effects would be felt in our country and around the world. We need elders who care about the sheep. Elders needs to take time to know the members. They need to know their struggles, their hurts, their spiritual maturity, their gifts, and anything else that may help them to shepherd their souls. Ignorance about the members of the church will hinder the elder take care of God's people. You can't help or heal what you don't know. We need elders that know how to correctly handle God's word. The teaching and preaching of the Bible especially requires an attention and care to details. No sloppy work in this area please. We need to have elders who live out this proverb in their ministry. God, please give us these kind of shepherds.