Shepherds Feeding Themselves


Jude is not a popular book by most standards. It’s short, and it uses its limited space to mostly put forth some very stern warnings and convictions. It lists many attributes of fake Christians having snuck into the ranks of those Jude was writing to. The one that stuck out to me is found in verse 12 when it refers to shepherds feeding themselves.

Jude 1:12 These are hidden reefs at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted;– ESV 

The Movement Of Feeding Ourselves

The reason I latched on to the three words in the middle of this text is that it is a subtle feature that is hard to detect and it is an attitude that is popular today among Christians. We think we can be shepherds unto ourselves and exclusively feed ourselves spiritual food. So many Christians at this point in history have legalistic backgrounds since legalism was popular a few decades ago. Legalism hurts people wherever it is practiced. Shepherds in those circles use fear and control, rather than feeding their sheep true spiritual food. Because of this, many people have gone to the other extreme and embrace a licentious gospel.

Along with this, comes the inevitable fact that many are not receptive to personal rebukes. Or teachings that are counter to their own ideas and ways. The popular way of thinking is that we have Jesus as our Shepherd and have no need for other spiritual authorities in our lives. In essence, we can feed ourselves. After all, those who claimed they were called to feed us in the past were frauds who hurt us. 

This is a subtle lie, because there is truth mixed in with it. All of us who have received the atonement Jesus made available to us, have access to the Father and the Spirit in a very personal way. And once we have the Spirit inside of us, He gives us many revelations and instructions directly from His heart to ours.  

God Does Speak To Us Through People

But there are many times when God chooses to speak to us through other people. Perhaps it is to keep us humble. Maybe to keep the body connected. Perhaps He simply can’t get through the preconceived notions in our hearts internally and we need a human voice, anointed by the Holy Spirit, to penetrate and wake us up. 

Whatever all the reasons are, it is definitely scriptural to have human shepherds in our lives that God has called as such and has anointed as such. And even those who are not specifically called as shepherds can still have words here and there that feed us spiritually. And just because the enemy has high jacked some vessels doesn’t mean God doesn’t have His own vessels to speak through. 

So what happens when we reject the words of those anointed by God to feed us? If they are indeed anointed by God, and what they are feeding us is true, then we are rejecting God Himself. In turn, we seek God’s face for ourselves and we don’t hear anything because He has already spoken and we have rejected it. This dries up our intimacy with God since we feel like He doesn’t care anymore. And then we truly begin feeding ourselves. We do not even seek God directly anymore.

Can We Humble Ourselves?

What a tragedy—and all because we can’t humble ourselves. I’ve experienced parts of this cycle personally and observed it in others as well. It’s not worth it. I’m still learning to embrace God’s methods of feeding me in whatever form it may take at any given time. As I grow in this, I see more and more the blessings it offers.

We have the Holy Spirit within us if we are born of the Spirit. Let’s use His presence to discern His voice internally and externally. If we do, we will not be as likely to fall into the hurtful traps of false shepherds. And we can find those who feed us true food. If we find those who do, and we receive God’s voice through them, He will also feed us internally in an amazing, intimate way.

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