29—leaders and shepherds
NOTE: I originally wrote a segment for each of the 61 points Frank Viola and George Barna make in their book, Pagan Christianity, about traditions in the institutional church not based on scripture. After writing it, I chose to not include this segment merely as I felt that in wouldn’t be an interesting radio commentary.
My name is Tom; this is Simple Church Minute
Why are there so many analogies between leaders and shepherds in the Bible?
We humans cannot read the mind of God to say why he chose to use that idea so often, but it is clear that He did. Moses, the adopted son of Pharaoh, after the murder of the field manager, hid for 40 years as a shepherd. There is clearly the contrast of his being born low status, raised to high status, only to flee and hide in a job of low status, to have the humility to be placed by God in the position of the leader of God’s people at a time they would need direction and protection. David, in Psalm 23, shows how God is the ultimate shepherd to his people. In John chapter 10, Jesus told us that he is the Good Shepherd, the shepherd knows his sheep by name and defends them. In the New Covenant, a type of ministry is called pastor, a synonym for shepherd.
I’ve heard some traditional church pastors say, in sermons on Psalm 23, that sheep are dumb. We humans are dumb in comparison to an all-knowing God. If you want a sheep to do a human’s job, they are dumb, and no good at public speaking, either. Sheep are appropriately intelligent for what they are to do—eat, sleep, reproduce, get sheared and butchered, and put up with being around humans. Wild sheep can hide in steep mountainous areas people and most of their predetors cannot get around well in. Modern shepherds, like other farmers, differentiate large numbers with ear tags.
How can spiritual shepherds know a large amount of people? Farther, Son, and Holy Spirit have no problem. Humans gifted for a leadership position are a different story. Ear tags? No. A church phone list? That’s not what I mean, either. You, nor I, can lead another much further in faith than where we have already walked, and we can do so better when we know each other. One person can only know so many people, and it isn’t measured in hundreds. Jesus intensely mentored 12, and Luke 10 seems to indicate, at a less intense level, another 58 or 70. And that was Jesus!