By far, the shepherd is the most important role when we talk about the church or the leading of the sheep. The shepherd is a role of patience. Our shepherds need our prayers daily!
When I look at a larger sheep farm/ranch like our neighbors, there is another important member of the group. That member is the sheepdog. In church terms the sheepdog would be the evangelist or better yet, the equipping evangelist! Before I lose my pastor friends that read this, let me say that the sheepdog is an no way more important that the shepherd. The shepherd has the rod of authority. He can tell the flock what not do and what not to do. The battle for the shepherd is that if he pushes to hard, the sheep tend to move on to greener pastures. That’s where the sheepdog comes in… On occasion when the flock needs to be pushed or moved quickly to a safer destination (salvation), the sheep dog comes barking and moves the sheep. This subject is a book in itself, but let me give you some observations about shepherds and sheepdogs. As the body of Christ, I think all of us act as a shepherd or sheepdog whether we are paid staff or not.
*A shepherd can survive without a sheepdog, but the work and stress is much harder than he expected without a sheepdog.
*A sheepdog cannot survive easily without a shepherd. It’s too hard to keep yourself fed and sheepdogs need affirmation and encouragement from shepherds.
*Shepherds can’t see themselves as a sheepdog.
*Sheepdogs can’t see themselves as a shepherd.
*Shepherds often don’t agree with the methods of sheepdogs because the shepherd feels they push too hard & too fast.
*Sheepdogs cannot fully understand the methods of a shepherd and wonders why they don’t bark.
*A flock ran by only shepherds will lose the sheepdogs because the sheepdogs feel like they can’t contribute.
*A flock ran by only sheepdogs will eventually lose the shepherds because they’ll feel that the flock isn’t being nurtured.
*A sheepdog will bark, push and move the flock out of their comfortable space, then the shepherds can step in and nurture the flock at their new pasture.
*A shepherd will comfort, encourage and strengthen the flock daily and the sheepdog will round up those who need the shepherd’s care.
*A shepherd’s biggest cause of stress is the sheepdog.
*A sheepdog’s biggest cause of stress is waiting for the orders to round up the flock.
*A sheepdog’s biggest motivation for what he does, it to help and please the shepherd.
*A shepherds biggest motivation is to make sure it is a safe place for the flock.
*If sheep never experience a sheepdog, they will become comfortable and complacent.
*If sheep never experience a shepherd, they will become paranoid and legalistic.
These are a just some observations of shepherds and sheepdogs. As I wrap this up, I want to caution my church brothers & sisters. Be sure to have both shepherds and sheepdogs in your church. The two can coexist! I’ve seen successful churches in which the Sr. Pastor is a sheepdog, but he surrounds himself with many shepherds to care for the flock. It can be done, but the balance needs to err on more shepherds. I think the best model is to have a lot of shepherds with a small amount of sheepdogs. The pastor is the head shepherd with his rod of authority ensuring the flock is strengthened, encouraged and comforted. He keeps the sheepdogs under his authority as not to create an insecure or paranoid flock, but uses them regularly to ensure the flock doesn’t become comfortable and complacent!
1. Waiting - I don't need to spend all my words on waiting. Waiting is a biblical concept (Isaiah 40:31, Psalm 27:13-14, Lam 3:25, Psalm 37:34, and the list goes on and on). I think it is important to note that the actual phrase, "Wait on the Lord" appears only 3 times in the bible. All three times it appears in the Psalms 20:22; 27:14; 37:14. The word wait appears 106 times (KJV), waited 34, waiteth 11, waiting 8 times. I think it is clear that with many life changing decisions that we face we are to wait.
2. Initiative - Since David coined the phrase "Wait on the Lord," I want to take you to what is likely the most famous story of David's life. Let's go to the story of David in Goliath in 1 Sam 17. When we read this story, many times we glance over it because it is familiar, but I want you to read verses 31-37 you will see that David took the initiative to fight Goliath. Without a doubt, it was David's idea to go fight Goliath. We all know the ending of the story, God rewarded David's initiative!
3. Observations - (a) David's initiative was aligned with God's will. When Goliath was talking trash, David decided it wasn't acceptable and rose up in opposition to him thus taking the initiative. Proverbs10:32 (KJV) This was an example of David's great faith in the Lord and his willingness to stand for righteousness as a follower in Christ. (b) David humbly took initiative. Some would say David was cocky in his approach, but before moving, he respectfully volunteered as a servant. (c) David knew that it was God who delivered him and God who will deliver him again.
So here's the answer - God rewards us when we take the initiative, if our initiative lines up with God's will! I want to encourage you today... If you have a ministry idea that is driven by the thought to take the gospel to all nations (Mark 16:15), don't wait... go! If you want to write and you intend that your writing will help others know God... start writing today! (Psalm 46:10) If there is a non-profit on your heart to start, join or donate time/money to that will bless the widows, orphans and the poor (James 1:27)... don't wait for a sign from God! If someone needs encouraged, don't ask for permission to encourage them (1 Thessalonians 5:11). I someone needs prayed for, it is unlikely that the heavens will open up and a beam of light will fall on them indicating to you it is ok to pray for them... just pray (1Timothy 2:1)!
It's time for the church to stop waiting for signs and wonders from God before we move! The church needs to know God's word, know God's will and to take the initiative so we can fulfill God's will on earth!
I'm convinced that the most common attack the enemy uses on us is distraction but the most powerful attack he has is man's ignorance to God's word!