A question that has been tugging at my heart for the last few months has been, ‘where have all the shepherds gone?’ or to translate, ‘where have all the pastors gone?’
Every week I seem to meet someone who has either stopped going to church or become disillusioned with their church or denomination. The biggest reason most of the time is because of the way a leader or pastor has treated someone.
Normally I’d be skeptical, but having seen this kind of treatment up close and even experienced some of it myself it makes me wonder have we lost the art of pastoring?
Every month I get a ton of mailers & emails telling me about the next leadership conference that is a must to grow your church, finance your church, lead your staff and start your next campus. However, I can’t even remember a conference that would talk about being a pastor.
When I read my bible, I hear the words of Jesus to His disciples, I hear the words of Paul to the churches, I hear Peter, James & John through their letters and what I hear is the heart of a shepherd. People who realize that leadership is important, but pastoring (or shepherding) is essential. Just think about the parable of the lost sheep for one moment. I mean, how many leaders and pastors today would leave the 99 to go after the 1?
I have a feeling that in trying to grow the church, we have focused so much on becoming a good leader that we have stopped training pastors. Those ones that have drifted are left in the wilderness and we have focused our resources, time, energy and finances on the 99.
I believe it is time for a return of pastoring, once we learn how to pastor, then we can learn how to lead!
Are you a leader? It does not matter what type of leader, just a leader? You may be a leader of an organization, a leader of a business, a leader of a church, a leader of a group, a leader in a sports team or just a leader in your home and to your kids!
Leaders are interesting people. When everything is hunky dory they feel on top of the world, but when leaders sense they are not quite on the pulse to everything they are responsible for they become different type of people altogether. You see leaders are paranoid to the core! I have met both high strung and mellow leaders, team leaders and go it alone general type leaders and most possess the same attitude when a certain situation arises, people stop doing what you want them to do.
When a leader loses their voice the world has come to an end for that person. He or she feels like the world is about to end unless they rally the people back in. Then those who stop listening to every word that comes out of the leaders mouth are blacklisted, called unhealthy or just thrown on the trash heap as useless.
I have seen some leaders do all three when you question a decision or forgot to say how high when they said jump. I have even seen leaders do this when people have shown gifts in areas that the leader is also gifted in. All in all this is because leaders are paranoid.
We can take a great lesson from a shepherd. A shepherd is usually in control of his sheep. When they get a little rowdy he pulls them into a tighter group. When one runs he goes after them. A shepherd is not concerned if one sheep becomes stubborn and a shepherd also knows if there is a sheep in the flock that does not belong to him. I recently read a book by Ralph Moore in which he said, ‘There will be many people who visit your church, and even hang around awhile, who can’t or won’t hear your voice as the shepherd’s’. I read this and thought if every leader took the principles of a shepherd there wouldn’t be anywhere near the level of paranoia that is in the minds of leaders today.
If you are a shepherd or a leader today, not everyone will see you as the shepherd. This is okay! Don’t get all paranoid if someone doesn’t act on every word you say. There are many shepherds out there that can lead one particular sheep and there are far more sheep out there that need a shepherd to lead and guide them. For every one sheep who can’t or won’t hear your voice there are at least one hundred who will.
As a leader what makes you paranoid? Have you had a situation that you were paranoid about but it all turned out fine?