By George Stahnke, 08/2016
When considering a topic of this nature, I realize that volumes have been written over the centuries by noted theologians. My desire is to simplify those many volumes into a concise, yet theologically correct article.
The greatest example of a shepherd’s heart is found in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ. There are two key verses that describe that heart, “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.” “I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me.” These verses speak of devotion, self-sacrifice, and a close personal relationship between the one who shepherds and those under his care.
Because of God’s love for his people he has promised to provide “shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding.”  These are not simply “men for hire” who work for a paycheck and then abandon the sheep when trouble comes knocking. Ministers who have a “Shepherd’s Heart” are compassionate, self-disciplined, bold, and relentless in defending the flock and biblical truth. They do not shrink back for fear of reprisal and are not afraid of self-sacrifice. Though not perfect, they are heroes of the faith.
There are two interwoven aspects of the Shepherd’s Heart in the context of the church: feeding and tending (governance). This is clearly seen in the conversation between Peter and Jesus.
John 21: 15-17 (ESV) When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." He said to him, "Feed my lambs." 16He said to him a second time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." He said to him, "Tend my sheep." 17He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, "Do you love me?" and he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep.
Feed: Tend G1006 boskō portraying the duty of a Christian teacher to promote in every way the spiritual welfare of the members of the church. Those with a Shepherds Heart will:
Ø Feed and nourish with balanced biblical teaching.
Ø Provide individualized care through counseling, prayer and visitation.
Tend: Shepherd G4165 poimainō rule, govern, furnish pasture for food, to nourish: from G4166: to tend as a shepherd (figuratively to supervise).
Tending in governance is essential for the stability of a local congregation. It also helps to maintain spiritual and relational well-being within the people. The lead shepherd with his team will do the following:
Ø Establish and defend sound biblical doctrine.
Ø Formulate and teach vision and purpose regarding the mission of the church.
Ø Establish operational ministry systems and protocols.
Ø Correct and discipline where needed to bring about repentance and reconciliation.
Those with a Shepherd’s Heart endeavor to serve with humility and lead by personal example in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity. In the Shepherd’s Heart there can be no room for petty striving for position or recognition. There is no need to boast about accomplishments for the shepherd recognizes that any measure of success is by God’s grace. He is always careful to give praise to God for the honor and privilege it is to serve the body of Christ!
The Shepherd’s Heart recognizes that it’s a team effort. The Shepherd’s Heart is by its nature a Servant’s Heart! Those of us who seek to live out of a Shepherd’s Heart also understand that it is by God’s grace and mercy in their lives, and by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Paul, in writing to his dear friend Timothy said, “If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task.” The word overseer is episkopē (G1984) meaning bishop, elder, the presiding officers of the church.
In my understanding, this would include the lead pastor, associate pastors, elders, those who are publicly set forth in the local church who provide spiritual leadership and oversight. This “noble task” requires a Shepherd’s Heart. I have been in ministry forty years and can attest that acquiring this heart is a progressive work that can only mature as we remain wholly submitted to the Word of God and Holy Spirit. This heart is still being formed in me!
 John 10:11, 14
 Jeremiah 3:15
 John 10:11-14
 1 Corinthians 4:16, 11:1; Philippians 3:17; 1 Thessalonians 1:6; 1 Timothy 4:12
 1 Corinthians 15:10, Romans 12:3; Philippians 2:13;
 1 Corinthians 3:1-9; 2 Corinthians 10:12
 Matthew 20:26-28; 23:11; Mark 9:35, Ephesians 3:7; Colossians 1:25
 Ephesians 3:7; 2 Corinthians 3:4-5; 2 Corinthians 4:1; Colossians 1:29; 1 Peter 4:10-11
 1 Timothy 3:1
 Acts 20:28; Philippians 1:1