Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd.
We were on a short flight out of Kisumu, Kenya, on a very small plane. Most of the team members had been seated next to others from our team and spent the hour chit chatting, cat napping or looking out the windows at whatever view we happened to pass. The pastor who led the trip was seated behind me, and I listened as he struck up a conversation with the man seated next to him. That was not idle chit chat. In the most unlikely of places, the pastor honed in on a lost soul and got to work. I heard him tell the young man why we were in the country, and he eventually gave him a bible and led him in a prayer of repentance. While the team rested and relaxed, our shepherd had not stopped working or responding to the compassion he felt for the lost around us.
A good shepherd has no off switch. When we think of the ideal leader we want to follow, the one we want supporting us in our spiritual need, I am sure we do not imagine someone who operates with compassion only on certain days or during certain hours. None of us would want our shepherd to be kind and loving in the church but cold and unfeeling after exiting the building. The expectation is that the shepherd has been moved by compassion to occupy that position, but this is not a professional skill, per se. It should be a lifestyle which is evident and constant. The good shepherd does not reserve compassion for a certain kind of person or only certain circumstances. This is not a part time show. The shepherd led by Christ is also led by His compassion for the lost, which has no limits.
I must be honest and say that I felt a certain conviction when I heard that pastor share the Gospel with a total stranger who he likely will never see again. I was concerned about resting and snacking, not thinking that the entire trip was a mission field for us. For him, the mission did not end because we had returned to our hotel or stopped our work to have a meal. He was on the lookout for the lost when some of us acted like we were just on vacation, and that was a great lesson in leadership for me. The good shepherd always has an eye trained on scanning the hills and looking for a new object for his compassion. Father, train us to lead like your Son, with compassion that is always ready to comfort and direct both the saved and the lost.