A relatively new Christian is suddenly AWOL from church meetings. A followup phone call is not returned or returned with an email talking about taking time off. What is a shepherd to do?
Some principles to keep in mind:
1. The devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Sometimes he roars. Sometimes he tantalizes (as in Gen 2). We can all listen to the wrong voices. The most vulnerable sheep is the one cut off from the fold.
2. When we walk in the light, we have fellowship with one another (1 John 1:7). Therefore it makes sense that when we are walking in darkness, we will want to avoid other Christians.
3. If we stop listening to truth, we will wander from the truth (Proverbs 19:27).
4. Sin is deceitful; that’s why we need others (Hebrews 3:13).
5. Our relationship with God and our life is personal but not private.
6. The shepherd will leave the other 99 sheep and go after the one that is wandering (Matthew 18:12).
1. Be assertive without being aggressive. Make a little more contact than they feel comfortable with.
2. Encourage communication. We all need others to talk things through. It is often helpful for others to articulate what they are thinking. Usually their thoughts are jumble. Just by articulating them to us, those thoughts come out into the light.
3. Empathize by sharing some of your own struggles that may be similar. Encourage them that what they might be going through is not unusual. And there is a way out.
4. Describe how you walked out of that time. Talk about people you talked to and truths that stayed with you.
5. Especially pray for and aim one or two apt Scriptures at their situation.
6. You cannot control what the other person does.
7. Seek the help of experienced shepherds to give you excellent questions and pleasant words to counsel.
The struggling sheep is a time for the shepherd to reach out. You go in the name and power as a deputy of Jesus Christ to rescue the straying sheep from the prowling of the lion.