“We are not Shepherds, we are under- shepherds”
The speaker started out 6 hours of training with this statement. He then proceeded to read Psalm 23 (an oldy, but goody as he called it) over us and gave us a chance to respond. There were a few more good lines throughout the training but this one stuck out to me. I was obsessed with how easy that phrase made my life. It isn’t all about me. It isn’t my issue or problem to fix. But instead I just need to be there.
When it comes to the evangelical church and my role in ministry, more than once I have been called a shepherd. And I don’t generally like it. I like more to wear my shirt that says “Sheep” because it is ironic and speaks to my natural tendency. To follow. To see something I like and follow that leader.
I am not a natural leader. Some people say I lead from behind. I don’t admit it unless needed. I don’t step up unless required. I only self identify as a leader when attempting to impress important people. And trust me, it is awesome to see the surprise on someone’s face when they realize the homeless looking dude they are talking to is leading the homeless feeding. But that’s not the reason I struggle to shepherd.
Shepherding seems to me to be about knowing what you are doing. To lead to pasture or food or water. When applied to the Christian movement it seems to be about leading people to a better life. A life I have but am not sure I could recreate or tell others how to recreate.
But Wikipedia says a shepherd is a person who tends, feeds or guards flocks of sheep. Not leads. Not manages but makes sure that they are fed, cared for, and protected. I can do that.
I can…stop an 11 year old becoming a gang banger in the next year.
I can…protect some dude’s hearts and souls from sliding down the slippery slope I am climbing, and have been for years
I can…feed some people that need a meal more than sermon while times are tough.
I can…guard my lady’s heart from exploitation and show her what love looks like, daily.
And if I do all that apparently I can be an under-shepherd listening to the words of the Master Shepherd.