Leadership and the Pastoral, Shepherding side of ministry.

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Leadership seminars, conferences, books and articles abound. The proliferation of leadership resources over the last three decades is astounding. I applaud it all, get much as you can.

I remember when I went through Bible College (1981) there was one leadership magazine that came out of the USA once every three months that many of us devoured. (Yes it was a long time ago). That was about the only journal on leadership. How things have changed, which is brilliant, and it needed to.

BUT… it seems the percentage of Christians still hasn’t increased overall in NZ. In Europe the trend is downwards. I’m not sure about other nations, but a brief look at the USA stats suggests no increase. Yes, churches have grown larger and multi-sites are on the increase. And with all the leadership conversations and resources and conferences, there are some attitudes that I’ve seen develop over the last number of years that are not helpful. I don’t particularly like seeing it in Christian leaders; it’s not only in churches but also among leaders in companies and businesses. It’s the unhealthy over-balance in leadership and an under-valued aspect of the pastoral, shepherding, and caring side of ministry.

Love people . . . no matter what. I understand leaders are task-focused and want a job done well. Amen!... but people are never only an end to a means. They are not only and simply there so the work you want done gets done! No one is perfect or will ever be perfect. But leaders, care for people - be gentle with people; people will make mistakes – sometimes really bad ones! People will make bad calls, that’s just the world we live in. Love them, bring them through, just like Jesus did and does with us.

It seems that at a quick glance, communication is at an all-time high. But emails, Facebook, Twitter and with all the other platforms of social media more than ever there seems to be a famine of loneliness, and people feeling isolated like never before. One cannot replace touch and face-to-face communication. Could it be we are broadcasting and not connecting? Or announcing - not listening, connecting or truly hearing? Could we be declaring yet not discussing?  Sending a text or email is not communicating. An email is read how you the receiver feels. Tone, facial expressions, voice and empathy are not communicated through social media.

The community of faith has an answer if not the answer… shepherds, pastors, people who really care for one another.

Leaders, allow me to remind you:    

Be kind, tender-hearted and forgiving. Ephesians 4:32.

Let your conversation be gracious and attractive. Colossians 4:6.

When one gets behind the scenes in some leadership situations the talk is not very uplifting about others, and it’s certainly not gracious or attractive. Being a leader is not an excuse to be ungracious, nor does it give license for being harsh. Leaders should set the example in forgiveness, graciousness, and kindness.

A whole Psalm is dedicated to this shepherding thought. It’s a piece of literature people have recited at special occasions and funerals, Christians and non-Christians alike, in fact some say it’s one of the most famous and recognised passages ever written. I wonder why? Maybe it’s because it shows how much we need shepherding. After all we are known as sheep!

Of course it’s Ps 23:1-6, NLT: “The Lord is my Shepherd…” Not the Lord is my leader, apostle, prophet… but my shepherd. Because He is our Shepherd we have everything we need. He gives rest, leads, renews, guides, takes away fear, He is with me, protects and comforts, prepares food, anoints me, our cup overflows, goodness and unfailing love pursue me. All because HE is our Shepherd. Wow!! Of course we also have Ps 91 and other passages which speak of this shepherding, caring, pastoral role.

One of the names of God is Jehovah-Rohi; Jehovah my shepherd. In fact many of the names of God resemble this pastoral attribute. For example Jehovah heals, Jehovah our peace, my banner, my provider, He is there…

John 10:1-17. Jesus speaks of Himself as the Good Shepherd. They recognize His voice, He calls and leads them. Jesus is speaking from an Eastern mind-set: in that part of the world a shepherd leads the sheep. In NZ the shepherd drives the sheep from behind. So maybe it’s out of the shepherding role, leaders lead? The passage goes on to say what a good shepherd does: He gives safety; He gives a rich and satisfying life; He sacrifices His life for the sheep; He brings others into the fold.

My thought is this, if you are going to lead well, learn to shepherd and pastor well. Or as J. C. Douglas said, ‘The right to lead comes out of how well we feed’.

My conclusion: 

Maybe, just maybe, true Biblical shepherding and pastoring means leadership is a result??

Maybe, leadership is a result of shepherding and caring for people? 

Thank you once again for taking the time to read this – and for your prayer support and encouragement.

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Last modified onMonday, 27 February 2017 03:56
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