The Bible, particularly in Proverbs, is full of encouragements for us to work diligently. Laziness is condemned. Industry is praised.
But Proverbs 27:23 gives us a particularly interesting perspective on what diligence looks like, and it carries some fascinating implications for us in the modern day.
Know well the condition of your flocks, and give attention to your herds,
Proper stewardship isn’t just about sweating and hard work. It’s not just discipline. It’s also about mental effort.
This proverb commends knowledge and attention. We should work hard to understand what’s going on in our sphere of responsibility.
For us, we could apply this to our time management. Know what’s on your plate. Understand your task lists. Give attention to your goals, priorities, and obligations.
The Reason for Attention
It’s clear why this attention is profitable. The shepherd’s information helps him make better decisions. And here’s another important part: it allows him to be proactive in the care of his flock.
The more we understand the extent and the nature of our commitments, the better we’ll be able to complete them.
But we can also be proactive about seeing trends. We can see problem areas we need to work on. We’re able to renegotiate commitments more effectively.
We’re able to rule our task list instead of it ruling us.
The Shepherd’s Care
The Hebrew wording in Proverbs 27:23 carries the feeling of personal care from the shepherd. He knows each one his sheep thoroughly and has a rather emotional connection with each one of them.
Each sheep is not just a lump of wool and flesh. Each one is a complicated individual being – and tied up in each sheep is the shepherd’s livelihood. His children’s food. The clothing he wears in the harsh winters.
Yes, each sheep is just one of many. But the shepherd cares for his flock one sheep at a time. The pattern of how he treats individuals determines the state of the entire flock.
What do you see when you look at your task list? Do you see a burdensome guilt-inducing mountain of busy work?
Or do you see each project tied to your goals? Do you see returning that Email as serving the Lord, loving others, and providing for your family?
When you understand the impact that each individual task can have, you will be driven to give attention to each one and thus to the “herd.”
What are some ways you need to improve in giving attention to your flocks?
Photo Credit: Photography King (Creative Commons)
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