“Here is a lesson for all who would be pastors of Christ’s flock” by Charles Spurgeon

So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.

He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.” (John 21:15–17)

“Here is a lesson for all who would be pastors of Christ’s flock.

The first necessity of a true pastor is love to Christ, the second necessity of a true pastor is love to Christ, and the third necessity of a true pastor is love to Christ.

A man who does not love the great Shepherd cannot properly feed either his sheep or lambs.

If his own heart is not right towards the divine Owner of the sheep, he cannot be a true under-shepherd to Christ’s flock.”

–Charles H. Spurgeon, “Following Christ,” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, vol. 53 (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1907), 53: 456.

“We set forth a most tender Father, a bleeding Saviour, and a faithful Comforter” by Charles Bridges

“Love is the grand distinctive mark of our office. It exhibits salvation flowing from the bosom of Divine mercy.

We set forth a most tender Father, a bleeding Saviour, and a faithful Comforter. The spirit of every discourse should be: ‘God is love.’ (1 John 4:8)

Therefore, we should so cast ourselves into the mould of our commission, that we may infuse its very life and character throughout our ministry.

‘Speaking the truth in love’ (Eph. 4:15) is perhaps, in a few words, the most complete description of our office. Love should pervade the whole tone of our Ministry.

Tender seriousness commends our office as Ambassadors of a God of love. A scolding Minister only proves he does not understand his errand. No man was ever yet scolded out of his sins.

The Apostles were used to address their people with language expressive of earnest endearment. The extant epistles of the primitive Fathers, the most earnest discourses of Cyprian and Augustine, and the homilies of Chrysostom, are strongly imbued with this character.

The amiable Fenelon observes: ‘I would have every Minister of the Gospel address his hearers with the zeal of a friend, with the generous energy of a father, and with the exuberant affection of a mother.’

This spirit of love must deeply imbue even the language of reproof. We must ‘exhort,’ but ‘with all long-suffering.’ (2 Tim. 4:2)

Meekness, gentleness, and patience must stamp our instruction of the opponents of the Gospel. (2 Tim. 2:24-25) We must wound their consciences as sinners, not their feelings as men.

Trembling, faltering, lips– the index of a heart touched with the melting sympathies of Christ– best become us, as guilty sinners speaking to our fellow-men, not more guilty than ourselves.

We are not arguing, however, for that sensitive delicacy, which refrains to wound, when the patient shrinks. The compulsion of love is the mighty lever of operation.

Love is the life, power, soul, and spirit of pulpit eloquence. Entreating rather than denouncing is the character of our office.

And it is the delivery of our Master’s message with the looks and language of His own manifested tenderness that attracts and triumphs over the hearts of a willing people.

We wonder not at the Apostle’s success, when we read, that at Ephesus he ‘ceased not for three years to warn everyone of them night and day with tears.’ (Acts 20:31)

The Christian pastor, of all men in the world, should have an affectionate heart.

When he preaches, it is the shepherd in search of the strayed sheep, and the father in pursuit of its lost child.

‘The love of Christ will constrain us’ (2 Cor. 5:14) all to some clear evidence of our tender love to His flock.

Love, continual, universal, ardent love is the soul of all the labour of a Minister.”

–Charles Bridges, The Christian Ministry, with an Inquiry into the Causes of Its Inefficiency (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1830/2020), 356, 357, 358, 359-362.

“Feed My sheep” by Charles Spurgeon

“Brethren, you have to feed Christ’s sheep. Our Lord says, ‘Feed! Feed! Feed!’ He begins with, ‘Feed My lambs.’ My little lambkins, or young Believers — these need plenty of instruction. ‘Feed My sheep’ comes next.

Feed the middle-aged, the strong, the vigorous — these do not require only feeding — they also need to be directed in their Christian course and to be guided to some field of earnest service for Christ — therefore shepherd them.

Then in the last, ‘Feed My sheep,’ you have the gray-headed Believers in Christ. Do not try to govern these, but feed them! They may have far more prudence and they certainly have more experience than you have and, therefore, do not rule them, but remind them of the deep things of God and deal out to them an abundance of consoling Truths.

There is that good old man. He is a father in Christ. He knew the Lord 50 years before you were born—he has some peculiarities and in them you must let him take his own course—but still feed him. His taste will appreciate solid meat.

He knows a field of tender grass when he gets into it. Feed him, then, for his infirmities require it. Feed all classes, my Brothers—that is your main work—mind that you not only get good food for the sheep, but feed them with it!

A farmer one day, after he had listened to a simple sermon which was the very opposite of what he generally heard, exclaimed, ‘O Lord, we bless you that the food was put into a low crib today, so that Your sheep could reach it!’ Some Brothers put the food up so high that the poor sheep cannot possibly feed upon it.

I have thought, as I have listened to our eloquent friends, that they imagined that our Lord had said, ‘Feed my giraffes.’ None but giraffes could reach the food when placed in so lofty a rack! Christ says, ‘Feed My sheep’—place the food among them. Put it close to them.”

–Charles Spurgeon, “Feed My Sheep” Sermon #3211, p. 6. As cited on http://www.spurgeongems.org/vols55-57/chs3211.pdf (accessed April 16, 2012).