God exhorts the older men of a church to “feed the flock,” not as lords over others, but leading by example. (1Pe 5:1-3)
A shepherd doesn’t generally spoon-feed the sheep, pushing grass into their mouths, but leads them to pastures where they can graze safely. (Ps 23:2) Healthy sheep instinctively feed themselves. (Col 3:16)
A shepherd’s value lies in his ability to find suitable pasture, and in his willingness to protect his flock; a faithful man will put his life on the line. (Jn 10:11)
But what if sheep refuse to feed themselves, wanting to be spoon-fed? Or worse, don’t know how to feed themselves? And what if shepherds think it’s their calling to spoon-feed their sheep, rather than teaching them how to graze? Now, that would be pretty messed up, wouldn’t it? We’d have a lot of anemic sheep, and a lot of worn-out pastors … wouldn’t we?