Tolkien’s Rangers as Pastors

Reading The Return of the King (third volume of The Lord of the Rings) to my boys a comment from Halbarad, a Ranger and kin of Aragorn, struck me as paralleling pastoral ministry. Speaking of the Shire, the peaceful land of the Hobbits, he said:

“Little do they know of our long labour for the safekeeping of their borders, and yet I grudge it not” (971).

One of the words for pastors in the New Testament is episkopos, typically translated as “overseer.” This word also has the connotation of “guardian.” This is part of what is in view in Hebrews 13:17 when pastors are described as those who keep watch over the souls of their people.
If we do our task well, our people will often not know the labor that has gone into their safekeeping. But the true shepherd will not begrudge this. He will be satisfied to see his flock make it safely home to the celestial city.

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