Just as the shepherd has a responsibility to the sheep; conversely, the sheep have responsibilities to the shepherd. We have already examined verse 12 and explained the phrase “know them.” Verse 13 emphasizes “esteem them very highly.” These two phrases give us the sheep’s responsibility toward the shepherds.
The first responsibility of the sheep toward the shepherds is to RECOGNIZE THEM. The Greek word for “recognize” is eido. This word has the greater meaning of “to know.” It has been used in the sense of intimate knowledge, like a man knows his wife physically. It could be translated discern, perceive, acknowledge, respect, admire or honor.
The sheep are to take a look at the shepherds. They are to “recognize” them as being godly leaders. They are to appreciate their hard work, oversight and faithful teaching of the Word. The same idea is found in I Timothy 5:17, “Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine.”
That phrase “double honor” carries the idea of payment. Those men who give themselves to serve the church, who work hard in the word and doctrine, who teach, visit, encourage, counsel and many other duties are worthy of being paid and being recognized and appreciated by the people they are privileged to serve.
On a practical level, let me say that our leaders, especially our pastoral staff, work very hard in service to you. I pray that you show them the recognition, love and respect that they deserve. It is a beautiful picture when both the shepherd and sheep live in a harmonious relationship.
It is a great sign of spiritual maturity when both shepherd and sheep model this scriptural principle.