"Know well the face of your flocks; and pay attention to your herds." Proverbs 27:23
Many people seem to live fine, healthy, normal lives. Outwardly successful, their possessions speak that they have done well for themselves. They are praised and asked how they achieved such success. Seeming to have a happy family life filled with fun, vacations and activities and they seem to have achieved their American dream. Paying attention to the outer life, they don't seemingly suffer from want or neglect. No one calls them out and asks the deeper questions. They are left in quiet to enjoy the fruits of their labors.
The children and parents seem fine. The children well cared for, well dressed, attending great schools. All the while they are not bankrupt outwardly, but the inner heart and soul are becoming neglected, lonely, longing for something that is unfulfilled. Their soul is declaring it's own form of bankruptcy.
"As surely as I live, says the Sovereign Lord, you abandoned my flock and left them to be attacked by every wild animal. And though you were my shepherds, you didn’t search for my sheep when they were lost. You took care of yourselves and left the sheep to starve." Ezekial 34:8
But beneath all of that---the outward success, is the inner life of the man successful? Think of how many times you are asked "how is your inner life with God going?" That is a rare question that is almost never asked. God sees our hearts, and the growth and success He sees is different than what we see as success. He does not count our possessions, our raises, our bonuses as His sole form of success for us.
"The shepherds of my people have lost their senses. They no longer seek wisdom from the Lord. Therefore, they fail completely, and their flocks are scattered." Jeremiah 10:21
God sees the heart and soul first of His children first. He longs for us to place Him first and demolish any idols that have taken His place. Our thought life, our hearts--- are they bankrupt to God? Or does He see treasures being stored up inside ourselves---the riches of His desires for us? He sees if we are storing away riches in our soul to take with us to His kingdom.
"That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep." Luke 2:8
We can be successful and gain a lot of self esteem and define ourselves by the outer success. We need to know the state of our flocks. How are our children's hearts? Our spouses? Other special people God has placed in our lives? Do they know God, and do they know us? Do we invest in the riches that are our children and families? Children, teen and adult depression and loneliness are at all time highs. This is often amongst those that seem to "have everything." Affluent children are often the most neglected and lonely. Amongst the gadgets, nice cars and the image of perfection is a deep soul longing for something more. Parents take their children to all sorts of therapy wondering why their children are in this state. Yet these parents neglected to truly pay attention to the state of their flock, they did not run after the sheep that started to run astray or make sure their flock stayed together. They were not truly the shepherd who watched over their flocks by night.
“What sorrow awaits the leaders of my people—the shepherds of my sheep—for they have destroyed and scattered the very ones they were expected to care for,” says the Lord." Jeremiah 23:1
Running on the hamster wheel pursuing the next level of success thinking it is for our families good, however well intentioned it may be, but all the while they sit at home lonely---is not success.
"Then I will appoint responsible shepherds who will care for them, and they will never be afraid again. Not a single one will be lost or missing. I, the Lord, have spoken!" Jeremiah 23:4
It is not true happiness to run after outer success only. The quiet inner success of ourselves and our families should be a priority. Often as we run after the wrong things our flock is neglected. We are also called to pursue our flocks success, to be with them and to watch over our flock even more than we watch over the outer success. May we remember to store up riches in the soul bank account, the only one we truly take with us---so that we or our families will never have to suffer from inner bankruptcy.
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep." John 10:11