The Sheep Go Deep

Shepherds lead sheep. They provide for them, protect them, and interact with them on a variety of levels. For one example, click here for sheep – shepherd interaction from a Good Morning America clip.A rich biblical theme is shepherd-leadership. In the Old Testament, David writes, “The Lord is my Shepherd.” In the New Testament, Jesus says, “I am the Good Shepherd” (John 10:11), and Peter refers to Jesus as the “Chief Shepherd” (1 Peter 5:4). The term Chief Shepherd is used, because the disciples followed Christ’s example and themselves became shepherd-leaders and shepherd-multipliers.

Below is the “Shepherd Psalm.”

Psalm 23
1 The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
2     He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
3     he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,[a] I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD
forever.

The following questions can be asked about being a follower of Jesus Christ based on these verses (from an 8/18/2013 message by Pastor Jim Lankeet, Beechwood Church, Holland, MI).

Vs. 1 Do I put myself under the ownership, control, and guidance of the Shepherd?
Vs. 2 Do I receive the rest and provision that comes from this relationship?
Vs. 3. Do I let Him turn me around when I get “upside down?” Do I trust Him to lead me to right relationships and right living?
Vs. 4 Am I aware of His presence, His guidance and protection, in the darkest times of life?
Vs. 5 Can I receive God’s provision even when there is uncertainty, fear, tension, and opposition in my life?
Vs. 6 Do I know that as certainly as God leads me, goodness and mercy will follow after me? Do I acknowledge there is no better place to be than in God’s presence – forever?

My personal sermon reflection caused me to generate the following questions which can be asked about being a leader from whom others expect Good-Shepherd-like behaviors.

Vs. 1 Do I conduct myself with such integrity of character that others are open to my guidance and direction?
Vs. 2 Do I relate to others in ways that bring encouragement and assurance, rather than anxiety and guardedness?
Vs. 3 Do I have the trust of others to such a degree that they permit me to confront and correct them?
Vs. 4 Do I stand by those who are in my care even in their dark and difficult times?
Vs. 5 Do I provide positive and hope-filled support for others even when everything seems to be going wrong and they cannot see the solution to their perceived problems?
Vs. 6 Do I radiate the light of Jesus Christ in my life so that others see Him through me? And, as a result of enjoying our relationship, do they look forward to living in the presence of Jesus forever?
There is much to learn about leadership from the shepherd/sheep analogy. Beechwood Church followed up the Sunday teaching with a Wednesday night “Going Deeper” event. The Dreyer family, local farmer/shepherd friends of Beechwood, brought some of their sheep to the church to demonstrate sheep-shepherd behaviors, which culminated in the shearing two sheep. Those who attended received copies of W. Philip Keller’s classic, A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23. This Wednesday night event was led by Pastor of Discipleship, Eric Peterson (pictured with Brady and Chase Dreyer). Church Leadership Center coordinates the Commissioned Pastor training of Eric and three and soon-to-be five other Commissioned Pastor candidates from Beechwood Church.

Church Leadership Center assists leaders and churches with leadership development. Click here for more information. To view videos about Commissioned Pastors and those who support them, click here.

To read previous blogs, click here.

Fall 2013 lay leadership courses include Old Testament, Theology, Pastoral Care, and Standards and Government. For course descriptions and additional information, click here. Please pre-register before August 31, 2013 by sending an email to Alison DeBoer, adeboer@rcagl.org. Course meeting date and time options will be communicated and discussed with participants during September 3 – 13. Classes begin the week of September 23 – 27. The registration fee of $300 per course is due prior to the first class.

Advance notice: Leadership and Commissioned Pastor Retreat is planned for October 25 – 26, 2013 at Camp Geneva, Holland, MI. Guest presenter: Pastor Marlin Vis. Topic: Reading the Bible through Middle Eastern Eyes. For additional information click here. To be put on the retreat mailing list, contact Alison DeBoer, adeboer@rcagl.org

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