“Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood”
We are thankful for our shepherds (and their families) who feed and protect the flock, provide wisdom and guidance, and set examples of love and faithfulness.
A shepherd in China was in a tight spot when his old sheep dog died. He couldn’t afford to buy and feed another dog. How was he going to care for his flock? After a visit to a local wildlife park the shepherd got creative. He noticed on his park tour that a flock of rare sheep was controlled by the use of wolf posters. The sheep stayed clear of the large wolf photos, refusing to go anywhere near them. Park rangers were controlling the behavior of the flock by the strategic placement of these wolf posters.
The shepherd went home, created some wolf posters, and tried them out on his flock. Just as he hoped, the posters did the trick. He could drive the flock, steer the flock, and control the flock by waving the poster of the wolf.
The image of sheep and flocks is often used in scripture to describe God’s people. The image of a shepherd is used to describe God (“The Lord is my shepherd”), Jesus (“the good shepherd”), and Holy Spirit appointed church leaders (“Keep watch over the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers”).
Shepherding a flock, while rewarding, is a demanding work. Effectively shepherding a flock involves feeding, protecting, and leading the sheep. It means scouting out new pastures, watching out for predators, and taking care of wounded or sick sheep. It means being on the move at a rate that allows the flock to get to fresh pasture without leaving behind the young or the old.
Sometimes church shepherds look for a quick fix to the needs of the flock. It is much easier to intimidate the flock with fake wolves than it is to get to know them. Much easier to control their movement than provide nourishing food. Much easier to scare them with posters of wolves than to engage the real wolves. Have you ever been in a church where leaders “led” by intimidation? Where leaders constantly cried, “Wolf!”?
I am thankful for those who shepherd the flock at Lafayette who lead us by being out in front of the flock to show us the direction to go. I love the way our shepherds pray for us and encourage us. There are no posters of snarling wolves being waved around. No intimidation. We see our shepherds and hear them lovingly calling us to follow. So maybe this is a good time to reflect on our sheepness. Are we listening? Are we following? Are we in the safety of the flock?
It would be so much easier for our shepherds to just carry around some wolf posters. After all, it’s a whole lot easier to keep the flock in line with intimidation and bullying. But I am thankful to God our shepherds have committed themselves to the messy work of getting involved in the lives of the flock. And I am thankful for their leading us with loving words to us and loving prayers for us.
— Bob Clark