The Real Shepherd, the Pastor of pastors, Jesus himself, was a compassionate person whose compassion for people drove him to prayer and to action for the people. A missional orientation will only be genuinely missional to the degree that it is prompted by compassion.
Some missional operations are doing the right thing for the wrong reason: they are focused on doing what is good but they do so out of anger or arrogance. Genuine Kingdom missional work is a work of compassion — it looks, it listen, it learns, it links, and it acts locally. It does so because the compassionate person sees the needs of others.
Jesus’ compassion, Matthew tells in 9:36-38, was especially directed at those persons who had been neglected and marginalized by false leaders. The imagery Matthew uses is that they are “harassed and helpless,” and then he quotes Numbers 27:17 (“like sheep without a shepherd”) which recalls what Moses saw in Israel and which led to the appointment of Joshua (Jesus’ name is the same as Joshua’s!).
Jesus’ compassion prompted prayer for more workers. I see issues for us today: (1) sometimes compassion leads to activism instead of prayer, but prayer is vital to all activism; (2) sometimes leaders don’t want to share ministry for all sorts of reasons; (3) sometimes we don’t see that this is God’s work and not ours.
How about you? Will you join in the work God is doing by opening your ears and eyes and heart to those around you who are in need of “pastoring”?
Pastoring, after all, is a heart that is shaken by needs and a prayer life that pleads with God and an activism that works directly with those in need. That is missional work — Jesus style. You don’t have to be called “pastor” to do some pastoral work.