Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Sheepdog

When I was in seminary I was labeled as somewhat of a rebel. This was mainly because I challenged some of the thinking that was taught there. Don’t get me wrong, I never questioned the authority of the Bible, or the existence of God. I simply questioned some of the teachings in some less Biblically based classes like Church Administration.

Prior to entering seminary I had some experience in automobile sales. I had been trained by the best car salesperson in the business; my dad. He wouldn’t even let me step foot on the sales lot until I had completed a two week one-on-one, personal training, at home, with him. My job during the day, while he was at work, was to watch training and motivational videos. Then when he got home, we ate supper and went to the upstairs bonus room to talk about what I had learned that day and role play.

I tell you this because it was during this, and in the ongoing training I received in the car business, that I learned basic business practices. I knew what the latest business growth models were, and how to apply them. When I got to seminary, I realized that the models for church growth were simply “renamed” business growth models. I spoke up and asked many times, “Whatever happened to just lifting Christ up for all to see? He said if we do that then He will draw all to Him.”

I believe we should always lift up Jesus Christ first. It’s not our job to grow the church. It’s His. We work for Him. He calls the shots. Not us.

One of the other things that I chose to fight in that class was the idea of being a shepherd. The instructor continued to refer to us as the shepherd of the flock. While I realize this is common terminology in reference to the pastor, I believe we are much less than shepherds. Jesus is the Great Shepherd. As pastors, we are just sheepdogs. The flock is His. We are not worthy to even be guarding them. We are just doing the hard, dirty work of a sheepdog.

We do what the Shepherd tells us. We try our best to corral the flock. If one goes astray, we try to rescue it. We live with the flock, eat with the flock, and spend our whole day and night with the flock. We are one of them, except for our calling.

Pastors, you are very important to the work of the Master. However, you are not in charge. We are only sheepdogs to God’s flock. Do your work obediently and faithfully.

I have a special concern for you church leaders. I know what it's like to be a leader, in on Christ's sufferings as well as the coming glory. Here's my concern: that you care for God's flock with all the diligence of a shepherd. Not because you have to, but because you want to please God. Not calculating what you can get out of it, but acting spontaneously. Not bossily telling others what to do, but tenderly showing them the way. When God, who is the best shepherd of all, comes out in the open with his rule, he'll see that you've done it right and commend you lavishly. (1Peter 5:1-5 The Message)

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