First, there is a loss of fellowship. The shepherd is no longer where you expect to see him. You look in the office. He is not there. You look in the pulpit, but he is no longer there. You see his number in your contact list and you know he will not answer if you call. Fellowship is gone. The sheep no longer see him in the fold, the pastures, and the mountains of their life.
Second, there is a loss of leadership. The sheep have to shake of a sense of confusion. They seek the pastor for guidance, but he is not there. The sheep used to hear the shepherd’s voice, but now it is quiet.
Third and final, there is a loss of example. As Paul took his disciples to follow him as he followed Jesus (see reference below), the pastor was always an example of how the sheep were to follow the Lord. Now the sheep are at a loss to see any other example outside of scripture to pattern their lives for the Lord’s service.
But the sheep can be of good cheer. If the pastor did his job right, the sheep will be able to draw even closer to the “Head Shepherd” and gain an even deeper sense of fellowship with the Lord. The sheep would have been taught how to hear the “Head Shepherd’s” voice for comfort and trust He will send another trustworthy shepherd to take the pastor’s place. The sheep will look back at the passing pastor’s example and give glory to God for sending them such a shepherd.
1 Corinthians 4:16 , 2 Thessalonians 2:7 & 9