They Smell Like Sheep
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What kind of leadership will effectively lead the church into the morally turbulent twenty-first century? The same kind of leadership that led it through the morally and politically chaotic first century. Shepherding. ^This is the kind of leadership Jesus used, and this is the kind of leadership that will take his church where he wants it to go. ^While the term "shepherd" produces warm images of love, care, and tenderness, it also describes a form of leadership that is perilously protective, dangerous, dirty, and smelly. ^"Shepherd" is something that every follower of Christ, the Good Shepherd, is called to become. ^Lynn Anderson, in this important book, leads us backwards in time to discover and identify the biblical leader for the future needs of the Christian community. Anderson's deep dig for truth will concern, convict, and confront us about where leadership has been, and will set a new standard for where the future leader must go. ^
Shepherds onthe Hills of Bible History One Sunday, adear friend and member of my congregation cornered me after asermon in which I repeatedly referred to elders as"shepherds." "Whydont you find a better way to communicate this spiritualleadership idea? No one in our church knows anything aboutshepherds and sheep--especially the way all that stuff workedin the ancient world. That picture just doesnt connect witha modern church." Admittedly, theshepherd metaphor does sound strange in the cyber-world of ourdaily experience. We dont normally see these picturesque,rural characters rolling down the expressways or eating at ourlocal McDonalds. But, after carefully considering myfriends suggestion and searching in vain for a contemporarymetaphor that would better connect the biblical notion with ourtimes, I finally had to explain, "I cant find anyfigure equivalent to the shepherd idea in our modern, urbanworld. Besides, if I drop the shepherd and flock idea, I wouldhave to tear about five hundred pages out of my Bible, plus leavethe modern church with a distorted--if not neutered--viewof spiritual leadership." God keeps pointing shepherds tothe pasture to struggle with sheep. In Bible times,the shepherds were as common and familiar to most MiddleEasterners as are telephones and supermarkets to modern-dayAmericans. Almost anywhere in the Bible world, eyes that liftedto gaze across the landscape would fall upon at least one flockof sheep. As my friend Ted Waller reminds us, in antiquity, the familyoften depended upon sheep for survival. A large part of theirdiet was milk and cheese. Occasionally, they ate the meat.Their clothing and tents were made of wool and skins. Theirsocial position often depended upon the well-being of theflock, just as we depend upon jobs and businesses, cars andhouses. Family honor might depend upon defending the flock. Shepherdsthroughout History The shepherdmetaphor shows up more than five hundred times in Scripture,across both Old and New Testaments. Without question, thedominant biblical model for spiritual leadership is the shepherdand flock. If we want to understand the biblical model forleadership, we must embrace the concept of shepherd. God as Shepherd In the"olden days" of the Old Testament world, the watch-careof God himself is pictured in the shepherd/sheep relationship.Most of us can quote the familiar words, "The Lord is myshepherd." The prophet Isaiah penned this less familiar butequally eloquent picture of God, "He tends his flock like ashepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them closeto his heart; he gently leads those that have young." What awinsome picture of our God! Cant youjust envision the awkward and delicate little lamb, ears askew,one gangly leg dangling near the shepherds elbow? Noticethat the shepherd tilts his head so that his beard nuzzles thelambs cheek and his resonant voice murmurs gently to thelamb as they move through the twilight toward the rest and safetyof the sheepfold. Old Testament readers would have pictured justsuch a gentle, caring relationship bet
Anderson, minister in Dallas, Texas, for over thirty-five years, received his doctorate from Abilene Christian University in 1990.