As we travel from church to church, every member from every congregation differs from one another, but they all have one thing in common, they all need to be fed the Word of God.  Sadly, many of the sheep are spiritually starved to death.  Why is that?  Are the pastors really paying attention to the needs of the flock, or, are the sheep just not wanting to be fed?  Or is it a little of both?  God has a lot to say to pastors, as it is written in Ezekiel 34:1-16:
Eze 34:1  And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
Eze 34:2  Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD unto the shepherds; Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks?
Eze 34:3  Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: but ye feed not the flock.
Eze 34:4  The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost; but with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them.
Eze 34:5  And they were scattered, because there is no shepherd: and they became meat to all the beasts of the field, when they were scattered.
Eze 34:6  My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and upon every high hill: yea, my flock was scattered upon all the face of the earth, and none did search or seek after them.
Eze 34:7  Therefore, ye shepherds, hear the word of the LORD;
Eze 34:8  As I live, saith the Lord GOD, surely because my flock became a prey, and my flock became meat to every beast of the field, because there was no shepherd, neither did my shepherds search for my flock, but the shepherds fed themselves, and fed not my flock;
Eze 34:9  Therefore, O ye shepherds, hear the word of the LORD;
Eze 34:10  Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against the shepherds; and I will require my flock at their hand, and cause them to cease from feeding the flock; neither shall the shepherds feed themselves any more; for I will deliver my flock from their mouth, that they may not be meat for them.
Eze 34:11  For thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out.
Eze 34:12  As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day.
Eze 34:13  And I will bring them out from the people, and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land, and feed them upon the mountains of Israel by the rivers, and in all the inhabited places of the country.
Eze 34:14  I will feed them in a good pasture, and upon the high mountains of Israel shall their fold be: there shall they lie in a good fold, and in a fat pasture shall they feed upon the mountains of Israel.
Eze 34:15  I will feed my flock, and I will cause them to lie down, saith the Lord GOD.
Eze 34:16  I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick: but I will destroy the fat and the strong; I will feed them with judgment
    We all know it takes money to run a church, some pay rent, some have mortgage payments, all have utilities and insurance to pay, and with money being tight all over, giving is down at most churches.  So what happens?  You start hearing more and more messages about sowing and reaping, with YOU doing the sowing, and THEM doing the reaping of course.  Now, giving is a biblical principal that you don’t want to ignore, for you NEED to be a giver.
    But gradually as financial needs press, many times the emphasis shifts from the pastors feeding the flock, tending to their growth and spiritual health, to where the shepherd starts devouring the flock, in that they want the sheep to feed them instead.  Somehow that doesn’t fit, even in nature!  Now, consider this; if a real shepherd had a real flock to tend, how would we see it go?  Well, I’m not an expert on sheep, but it would go like this: the shepherd would certainly be there every day watching over his sheep.  He would KNOW his sheep, and his sheep would know him.  He would daily examine his sheep for cuts, bruises, broken bones, and most certainly he would be interested in knowing if any had wandered off or had been killed or injured by wild animals.  It would be logical to me he would want to know how many there were so he would know if they were all there.  And if any were missing he would surely go hunting for them, right?  He would do his best to make sure they were safe and had enough to eat.
   Ok, having established that, consider the shepherd that drops in on Sunday and Wednesday for a couple hours.  Who was watching the sheep all the rest of the time on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday?  Yep, you guessed it, the WOLVES.  They’re a hungry sort, you know, and if the shepherd isn’t around doing HIS job, they will be around doing THEIRS.  And THEY don’t rest or go on vacation.  Then the shepherd will wonder what happened to his sheep.  Well, they must have been a rotten bunch of sheep to wander off or be devoured, right?  What a fix he has now, because he needs his sheep to pay his bills for him, and after all, he IS spending a couple hours a day twice a week with them, how ungrateful they are.  At least he has less trouble to deal with now….Does that scenario sound familiar to you?  Have you missed church a few times and nobody came seeking you to see if you’re ok? 
   Thankfully, God is not like most people, in that He deeply cares about His sheep.  Yes, there ARE good pastors out there, and I’m thankful for that.  However, God is not pleased with pastors who neglect their flocks, and He makes it very clear in the above verses.  Thus, we have a lot of undernourished sheep, who are skittish, unstable, fearful, and pretty much left to fend for themselves.  That isn’t God’s way of doing things.  He sends pastors to care for His flock. A pastor does not have a glamorous job by any means.  I can’t begin to number the calls I’ve received in the middle of the night from those I minister to.  It isn’t about MY comfort or convenience anyway, it’s about theirs.  When you read about David, you see how he faithfully tended his flock, summer and winter, sunshine or rain, or dark of night, and when the bear or lion came to devour his flock, he risked his life and defended his flock from harm.  Now THAT’S a good shepherd.  Why, I believe David may have even missed his Monday golf game to make sure his sheep were well tended.  Yes, I realize that’s going above and beyond, but David loved his sheep.  Therefore, I believe his sheep loved him too.
   I’ve heard too many stories about bad, disobedient, disrespectful sheep.  Some have gone as far as to have been called goats by certain pastors.  Yes, there may be sheep like that, but even a bad sheep can be retrained with enough love and patience.  Why,  I don’t have a bad sheep in my whole flock of thousands, for the LORD has sent me absolutely perfect sheep.  Not really.  No, He has sent me sheep which need a shepherd and He has given ME the mercy and privilege to tend them and love them wherever they are in life.  After all, the LORD showed me HIS love and mercy, and I find it is so wonderful, that I want everyone else to enjoy it.  Therefore, my sheep are precious and delightful to me, no matter what their background.  And if they aren’t delightful now, just give me some time to tend them, and they soon will be, at least in MY eyes, and in the LORD’S eyes.
   As some sheep wander from pasture to pasture (church to church) seeking to be fed, some are met with rejection, or harshness (in the name of good discipline, they say of course), and some of those sheep have picked up some bad habits along the way, so most shepherds don’t want to be bothered with them.  They fail to see the opportunity to show them JESUS!  Well, true, some sheep DO come to me wanting to be petted and spoiled and aren’t really interested in knowing Jesus.  That’s where I go into shepherd mode.  There’s nothing better than seeing contented sheep.  But they don’t need me, they need JESUS.  You see, my job is to point them to the GOOD SHEPHERD, the Lord Jesus.  I didn’t bleed and die for them; Jesus did, so in reality any help I give them really comes from the LORD, not me.  But until they see enough of Jesus in the Word of God to know Him personally, they look to me to help them along and care for them and love them for who they really are.  And I’m good at that, because I remember who I was B.C. (before Christ) and His mercy toward me.
   Those of us who serve as pastors need healing for our wounds as well, for we are ALL a work in progress, no more or less important to Jesus than the people we minister to.  We want to make VERY sure we are not the shepherds God is not pleased with here in Ezekiel 34. Yes, there are abusive sheep, and we have to deal with that, for hey, that’s just life kids.  It’s not all fun, potluck meals and golf.  There are long hours sitting in hospitals and visiting prisoners, praying for and ministering to the sick, offering counsel, and serving our people however and whenever needed.  And congregations need to realize the responsibility God has given pastors, for they must give account for their flock and how they treated them, and most importantly, how they raised and developed their flock.  And you want your pastor to be able to give account for you joyfully.  The ideal situation is where the shepherds and flocks are a match made in heaven, but it doesn’t always work that way, and love and patience must flow in both directions.  You do that already, right?  I thought so.
   I’m not interested in being a celebrity pastor who can offer you a huge fine church building with knock-‘em-out entertainment that dazzles the senses.  But if you’re hurting and have lost your way, I’m looking for you, and I will keep seeking until I find you.  Then I’ll pick your briars off and apply the Balm of Gilead to you to help you heal, and if you’ve been beat up and bruised and are tired of the hype, humiliation and rejection, I’ll introduce you to the best Pastor there is, the LORD JESUS.  God indeed DOES have good plans for you, and hopefully you will allow Him to bring them to pass.  Ah yes, how enjoyable it is feeding the flock.