Son of man, speak against the leaders of Israel, the shepherds of my people, Israel…but they are not true shepherds, since my sheep are scattered over the face of the earth, with none to seek for them (Ezekiel 34, paraphrased)
Shepherds don’t produce sheep, sheep produce sheep.
Why did Jesus call believers sheep? A popular reason is that sheep are rather stupid creatures and slow. They need a shepherd to tell them what to do. That is totally wrong. Jesus called us sheep because, unlike goats, which are rugged individualists, sheep only produce when they are united as a flock. When separated from each other, they languish. Ask a real shepherd and he will tell you sheep need one another as much as they need a shepherd.
A false shepherd, like the wolf, scatters and isolates the sheep, making them easy prey. A false shepherd, treats his people like goats. A true shepherd unites them and keeps them together by building community or koinonia, Luke writes how koinonia is a vital quality that led those early believers to become the most successful church in history.
A good shepherd/pastor trusts his people to take on big jobs. Many Christians with wonderful gifts never have the chance to use them. This is a big mistake and a major reason the church is failing to produce new believers. Church staff do too much and the people do too little. When only the paid staff do the important jobs, they’ve got their job description wrong-side out. Their goal must be let them to do all the things he does and more, so they can reproduce.
The Church Requires Good Leaders. The body of Christ, the church, has always thrived when it has had leaders who coached, trained his sheep. He delights in seeing them using their gifts and become leaders as well. He develops a strong sense of community among the flock. One church member grumbled, “it seems the only thing we are being equipped to be is the pastor’s little helpers.
A strong leader is not threatened by the gifts in his flock, but encourages and rejoices in them. Sometimes he sees gifts that he doesn’t have. But a good leader is never envious, but encourages everyone to use their gifts.
God of mercy and grace, shine upon your church today. Forgive our divisions. Make us great again by our true obedience to your law of love for you, one another and our neighbor.
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