Shepherd. I am a shepherd. If wonder what the IRS would say if I listed shepherd as my occupation. Shepherd is one of the biblical metaphors for pastors. One of the strongest challenges that Paul makes to leaders of the church is to “shepherd the flock which God has given you.” Jesus talked about being a shepherd. He said things like, “The good shepherd knows his sheep;” “The good shepherd gives his life for the sheep;” and “The sheep know his voice.” There is one more description of a shepherd that has always grabbed my heart. It is the picture of a shepherd leaving the flock to go out in search of one lost sheep. The one who is hurting takes priority over the many who are doing well.
I probably more often think of my role as a pastor in terms of leader and servant — perhaps sometimes as visionary and coach — but mostly as leader and servant. Sometimes I get so caught up in the mechanics of leading Calvary — along with a great group of staff and lay-leaders — that I forget the deep joy that comes from being a shepherd who cares enough to pursue the one who is hurting.
Here is my point — I love being a shepherd, but there is no way that I or a small group of people can shepherd the flock that God has given us. There is not way that the pastors God has drawn here can shepherd all the people — AND — there is no way we have to do it by ourselves.
This week through a number of e-mails and the recounting of a handful of God-stories, I was reminded of what an amazing job you — so many of you at Calvary — do at shepherding the people God draws to our midst. This week I heard stories about ways that LifeGroup leaders are being shepherds. I heard about ways that individuals are shepherding friends who are going through hard times. I heard about some of the life-transformation that is happening as adults shepherd youth.
So I guess I just wanted to say thank you. Sometimes I get so caught up in all the organizational stuff that needs to be done that I forget the steady impact that our church has on the lives of its members. Not that we are perfect, remember not only are we shepherds, we are also sheep! Still, thank you to those of you who invest in our youth and children. Thank you to those of you who are LifeGroup leaders. Thank you to those who serve on our Leadership and Shepherding Team. Thank you to the staff and multitudes of volunteers. Thank you to those on the set-up and tear-down teams at Midtown and Gray’s Woods, without you, it wouldn’t happen. Thank you to those who touch our hearts through worship. Thank you to those who serve people in need throughout our community. I could go on and on. But to all of you — thank you for joining me as a shepherd.
I grew up on two different farms. On the first farm, we raised sheep. On the second farm, we raised pigs. I’ll take pigs any day. Pigs are smarter. Okay sheep smell better, but pigs are smarter. In some ways shepherd is an odd metaphor for what we do, but in some ways it describes our calling perfectly. Thank you for being a shepherd.