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Shepherd Leadership

Character, Competency and Capacity

Leadership involves character, competency and capacity. 

Modeling & Forming Character

Date: 

October, 2003

Number: 

24
Last of a seven part series on becoming a Shepherd Leader.

In our work with fallen leaders and troubled churches we have discovered three critical factors that determine the long-term health of a ministry leader:

1.) the character of the leader;

2.) the character of the leader’s spouse, and

3.) his or her regular involvement in life-on-life accountability. (The absence or weakness in one or more of these three key factors will inevitably result in a leader sabotaging, and often hurting deeply, his or her marriage, family, and ministry.)

Scripture continually emphasizes character before competency. Yet most churches focus on competency before character when selecting leaders. This is why many churches fail or become stagnant. No church can rise above the character of its leaders. To transform the church we must see leaders transformed first.

Mentoring & Equipping Leaders

Date: 

September, 2003

Number: 

23
Part six of a seven part series on becoming a Shepherd Leader.

Most protestant churches are organized around and dependent upon the personality and gifts of one person, usually the senior pastor. When this occurs, the church becomes a reflection of the leader. Where the leader is strong, the church is strong. Where the leader is weak, the church is weak. This is true of any leader and in any organization. No one person has the gifts, wisdom or strength to lead a people alone. All leaders have blind spots and weaknesses. Ignoring these truths forms the church in human, not divine, image and sets our leaders and churches up for failure.

The New Testament model for the church is never one person leading. The church is always pictured as a Body with many parts working together guided by leadership who function as an interdependent team of complimentary gifted persons—apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. (Eph 4: 11-13)

Feeding and Nurturing the Flock

Date: 

July, 2003

Number: 

22
Part five of a seven part series on becoming a Shepherd Leader.

One summer years ago we experienced an extended drought in New England. While the Midwest was flooded, the East was bone dry. This became a problem on our farm. We have only six acres of pasture to accommodate up to 20 sheep. To keep both sheep and pastures healthy, we rotate the animals between two fields, feeding the animals in one pasture while the other field has time to grow. Here is the problem: as dry weather slows the growing, sheep do not slow their eating.

As the summer wore on, our pastures withered. Typically, sheep will rest during the day and graze during the cool of night. Since pastures are clear of trees, there was little shade, except for a line of towering maples bordering the brook running through our property. Our dumb sheep were in the habit of laying down along the fence at the top of the pasture fully exposed to the sun and to the heat of the day. There they lay in their wool sweaters all day long, panting.

Setting and Keeping Boundaries

Date: 

June, 2003

Number: 

21
Part four of a seven part series on becoming a Shepherd Leader.

Every Christmas our family bought a new jigsaw puzzle to put together. It was a family tradition for many years (up until the year we discovered that none of us ever really liked jigsaw puzzles.)

To start, of course, we opened the box, dumped out the pieces and turned all of them right-side up. Then we propped up the box cover so we could see the design and refer back to it constantly as we slowly put the pieces together. The only thing I liked about putting together the puzzle was the start. It was my job to find and to join all the straight edges that framed the puzzle.

Defining Current Reality

Date: 

May, 2003

Number: 

20
Keeping the things of God in mind. Part three of a seven part series on becoming a Shepherd Leader.

In the first part of this series we considered Step One: “Re-presenting Jesus Christ.” The first and primary task of every spiritual leader is to make the Lordship of Jesus Christ the object and subject of all things. In the last issue we considered Step Two: “Embodying God’s Vision.” Leaders are called to a process of hearing, discerning and living into God’s vision for His Church.

In this newsletter, we turn to Step Three: “Defining Current Reality.” Here, we want to explore how leaders must discern and speak the truth about where the church is in light of God’s purpose and vision. This requires acknowledging and confessing weaknesses as well as celebrating strengths; exposing sin and leading in correction, rebuke, and encouragement.

Why Over-Seers Must Be Under-Hearers

Date: 

April, 2003

Number: 

19
Part two of a seven part series on becoming a Shepherd Leader.

In the last issue we considered Step One: “Re-presenting Jesus Christ.” The first and primary task of every spiritual leader is to make the Lordship of Jesus Christ the object and subject of all things. Spiritual leaders do not represent the opinions, agendas, nor needs of the congregation; they re-present the Lordship of Jesus Christ to the needs, issues, and decisions facing the church. The shepherd leader must re-present Christ to the congregation in prayer and Word—to listen, discern and describe what God is saying to the church.

In this issue, we consider Step Two: Embodying God’s Vision.

Embodying God’s Vision

What Every Leader Must Always Do

Date: 

March, 2003

Number: 

18
Part one of a seven part series on becoming a Shepherd Leader.

For ten years I raised sheep on a small farm in New Hampshire. During most of my life I have served in various leadership roles in the marketplace and in the church.

When these worlds merged years ago, I was struck by how caring for sheep was teaching me vital lessons about leading people. I noticed principles in Scripture that I had always taken for granted.

For instance, I noticed that most biblical leaders were shepherds before they became spiritual leaders. Nearly every Old Testament leader was a shepherd first. Sheep and shepherding are images that Scripture uses frequently, sometimes exclusively, to describe God’s people, His purpose, and those He calls to lead. Jesus, for example, refers to himself as both sheep and shepherd. Indeed, spiritual leaders are called “shepherds” in both testaments.

Harassed and Helpless

Date: 

April, 2001

Number: 

4
A call to shepherd leadership

Of all the leadership models in Scripture—prophet, priest, king, or judge—God exhorts pastors and elders to be shepherds. Why?

Why does Jesus say to Peter “feed my sheep?” Why does Paul commend the Ephesian elders to “keep watch” and to “be shepherds?” Why does God choose a shepherd to describe the role of a church leader?

Why not a teacher, or priest, or prophet or another office?

The life of a shepherd was commonly understood to all in the ancient Near Eastern world. Every reader of Old and New Testaments had ready knowledge and experience of both sheep and shepherds. But the role of teacher and priest were also common, why not emphasize these roles in leadership?

In fact, when prophets and priests failed, God rebuked them as “shepherds.” (See Ezekiel 34)